Learning Networks Diagramming

learning_networks_diagram01

This diagram works with the population of 450 students, using the Dunbar Number 150 that trisections this population. The progression of this diagram into five conceptual parts, represented in the image above, are explained below.

  1. Cohorts

    The initial division of thirds, each square representing 3×150 student cohorts, and the black bar, referred to as the spine, representing the corresponding network of faculty educators.

  2. PBL Groups

    Academic project-based learning groups within cohorts [dotted boxes] that are associated with student leader teams that connect to the educator spine [colored boxes].

  3. The Spine

    Student PBL group leaders collaborate with faculty through this core.

  4. Interdisciplinary Collaboration

    PBL Groupings and network student leaders from each group discipline are connected and able to communicte/interact through the spine

  5. Mentor/Field Professional Connections

    PBL Groups and their leaders are directly connected to mentors/field professionals realted to their respective group discipline [ 4 outside squares ] These external individuals are loosely connected [ dotted line ] to the faculty newtwork within the spine.

In an excerpt from Democracy and Education, Dewey states,

Persons do not become a society by living in physical proximity…If, however, they were all cognizant of the common end and all interested in it so that they regulated their specific activity in view of it, then they would form a community…Each would have to know what the other was about and would have to have some way of keeping the other informed as to his own purpose and progress.

This diagram/series of diagrams, responds to this issue of what a kind of methodology for bringing this concept of a student body that is ‘cognizant of the common end’, and ‘keeping the other informed’, ‘know what the other was about’, is meant to be achieved through the spine. It is less important here what the actual disciplines themselves are, but more about how they are connected socially in the structure of a school. This is not to say that the relationships between specific areas of design that have been proposed (Industrial, Culinary, Organizational, and Graphic) are not important, but here the analysis simply has a different focus. Applying this community connectivity Dewey mentions within the concept of a spine to the creation of spaces within a school brings up more questions. How can spaces be created that help not only the collaboration of students and teachers, but also interdisciplinary collaboration? How do the PBL groups within each cohort relate to each other physically/spacially?

The overall structural methodology in these diagrams comes in part from an attempt to unpack a conversation we had in our studio last week. The conversation was about the role of athletics in High School. Because we will not be accommodating any tradtitional athletic facilities/programs in our designs, I drew upon my own experiences with them to try to extract what they were able to offer me besides of course physicial fitness and athletic discipline and skill. Leadership and teamwork were the essential standout skills I took away from high school sports, and in programs like vocal music as well. Pretty obvious take-aways. It’s important to note though that the structure of these programs doesn’t allow everyone to be a leader–but the thing is you don’t have to be a leader to learn what good leadership is.  Valuable involvement in programs outside of the academic realm rely on the ability of people to work together toward collective success in a way that supersedes any kind of individual achievement.

How can we influence the facilitation of these opportunities– leadership, teamwork, within an academic setting? Why did I not have the same opportunities to develop leadership and teamwork skills in my academic classes that I did as a team captain or section leader? The PBL structure seems like it could inherently support a network of teams, and by designating positions of student leadership within those teams, now we can begin to see how the learning environments of  academic disciplines can try to yield some of the same leadership and teamwork ability. By connecting this network of student leaders to the network of faculty, the spine should strive to support collaboration between the two and thereby a more democratic  approach in the functioning learning environment. How does architecture allow this connection to take place?

More to think about.

-S.M.