The Entrepreneurial Learner
Students of today are entrepreneurial learners, many are non-traditional students who want to be allowed to drive their own success. Changes are needed to be responsive to these unique student needs. They want to exercise their curiosity, share their experiences with their peers, and become immersed in the experiences that will shape the rest of their lives. These successful entrepreneurial learners are driven by autonomy… partially a resultant of the technology that is so integral to their everyday lives, but an autonomy driven by the vast amount of choices they have. Spaces should facilitate education in innovative and collaborative ways and blur the lines between learning and practice, and be flexible enough to accommodate evolving pedagogies.
Accommodating Classroom Pedagogies
As with most all institutions, classroom spaces are at a premium. Therefore, careful planning and a creative implementation plan will be required to facilitate a successful project and not impede the educational process. Phased construction can also have cost implications; therefore, a resourceful construction phasing plan must be determined early in the process. Criteria such as material availability, time of year for the construction process, and other factors will need to be carefully planned to make the best use of the State’s funding for a phased project.
This basic concept of cognitive learning is only the beginning of understanding brain science and its impact on the educational experience. It has created an awareness that students learn best with access to a wider range of tools and has led to the changes we see in educational pedagogy:
Classroom variety is imperative. Spaces require both visual and physical access and allow for quick “ownership” changes, i.e. flexible furniture.
The education pedagogy is evolving into a more multi-sensory approach to both teaching and learning: hearing, seeing and doing.
Technology is fully integrated: both projection and on interactive surfaces. Not only are teachers “plugged in”, so are students, with technology that switches from laptop to laptop to share information.
Informal learning spaces, or “collision” zones, provide a choice of destinations where students and faculty can meet and discuss concepts outside the classroom.
Synthesis renovated the Heine Pharmacy Teaching Lab at Purdue University with the concept of a multi-sensory teaching approach in mind. This quick summer renovation project required careful and thoughtful planning in order to be implemented in a 3-month time frame. The results allow faculty to easily move throughout the room and to interact with all students. Students can work individually, in 2-person groups at the fume hoods, or in 4-to-6-person groups at the lab benches and the layout allows all students to have unimpeded views of the front of the room during pre-lab activities.