What were the primary challenges you faced in designing for Open Source Learning environments?
I am a person who does not learn unless I try it out first, I literally learn by doing…. That is why at the beginning of these 23 weeks together the entire idea of Open Source Learning was way out of my comprehension, I was happy with the way my high school handled education unlike many of my peers because I came from a school that was headed toward a similar path of OSL. However, as a studio we didn’t actually experience our first school field trip until midterm of Winter quarter my grasp of the concept was practically non existent. It wasn’t until High Tech High that I had an idea of how these schools worked and more or less what we were striving for as a school environment. Later, in Chicago, we learned how these school are made, what it takes and we as a studio were striving for. It wasn’t until the Manifesto that we realized exactly what we wanted and what it would take to accomplish it. After this enlightenment of an experience I felt like I could try out an OSLA of my own and/or as team with the ability to collaborate and exchange ideas.
When it came to the actual design it was just a matter of trial and error what exactly do you want out of it?
Here’s my go in our ThinkLinks Learning Academy’s Project Concept:
“What’s the story we’re trying to tell? Our project originated by this concept of ‘Links’ which were these four arms that were connected at the ends by four nods. Although, the geometry of the building may not appear the same the general notion of it has remained as well as the project’s concept itself. The four arms have been reduced down to three which is where our interest areas are located and the nodes are the location of our classroom clusters.
Throughout the school you can find meandering paths of circulation as well as ones that are more direct. The former can be found circulating around the two courtyards where you are connected by the arms. Inside these are our lofts in double-story spaces. You have the opportunity to watch what classmates from different interest areas are doing. For example, in the Culinary loft one may hangout above and see what the students are doing, smell what they are cooking, and hear what they are planning. Then they go down and touch/feel what they’ve created but ultimately they can taste what they’ve experienced. This goes for all the others too (media, product, and organizational). By coming in contact with all five senses, in the end, you’ve gotten a sense of belonging. A self-identity that this is your school, our school. You are not all in your four separated areas doing separate things but to the contrary you are all working on different projects together. You need outside perspectives from peers so that they can try your food, test your new invention, or listen to your next big hit. It is a give and take dependent upon each other that brought together by the entire experience of the school and where this experience expands beyond the classroom to the exterior and to the common spaces.”
This was a challenge (in a positive way) because as I found myself explaining the project on our final review it was sort of like a checklist where we asked ourselves did we really meet every single experiential/spatial goal mentioned above? And I think we did, we were able to justify the reasons why we designed the way we did based of the concept.
Are there any “big questions” that you are leaving this studio with?
Although it’s fairly clear that Open Source Learning does help students academically and may prepare them for their future, I’ve always wondered if that would affect them in their college career as classes are taught completely different and the number of students would most likely be higher than what they are accustomed, my question(s) is would they be at an advantage? Would they struggle? Or would they be in the same boat as students from “ordinary” high schools would be?