The Experiential Learning Academy is a place for students to pursue their passion and become professionals in the process. Open source education blurs the role between teacher and student through a flexible curriculum, allowing teachers to become resources to the students and not the withholders of information. While a lecture format can be good for conveying factual information, the Experiential Learning Academy is based heavily on project-based learning.
Project based learning works in three phases. The first is experiential learning, where students are hands on or working through a practical problem in groups, improving their leadership and communication skills. The second phase is reflection. By giving all students a device and a workspace outside the classroom they are able to collaborate, vocalize their opinions, and successfully reflect on their experience and establish a consensus of what they have just learned. The final phase is where groups share their knowledge either through a presentation or exhibition, which gives them an opportunity to represent their learnings. This final phase is the presentation phase. Constant researching, collaboration, and generation of a final product create graduates who are leaders, team players, and poised to become professionals that are ready to continue their education or profession at the next level.
Early building typology studies had two main goals: to generate a form that maximizes daylight throughout the entire building and to take advantage of Avila Beach’s temperate climate, by creating indoor and outdoor learning spaces. The broken finger typology led to a boomerang form achieving both goals. This form created a single loaded corridor, allowing for ample daylight, and a curve that naturally fashioned part of courtyard. The curve also thickened a portion of the building, giving the shape a node or focal point at its center. Through multiple iterations, the final form produced a cantilever and enclosure at the entrance as well as a main courtyard that traverses its way up two stories through the center of the building. The single loaded corridor formed a gallery space that winds its way throughout the school.
Development of the Cluster
Continuing the rules of adjacency from the board games that were created at the beginning of the quarter, the design of the cluster follows many of the same rules. The goal of the cluster is to maximize flexibility, allowing the students to design their own workspace and encourage collaboration between disciplines. Nanawalls and flexible furniture allows classrooms to double in size for debates or presentation as well as join a lab to a classroom, giving students both hands on and reflective learning venues. Transparent partitions, punch-outs, and common areas allow students to have a visual connection to other subjects while they are reflecting on their own current lesson. Transparencies provide the faculty a way to monitor students inside and outside the classroom, heightening security.