At this point in your life, you have probably worked your way through close to 15 years of formal learning environments. Some of you have experienced little more than a typical classroom with learners in rows of desks and a teacher at the front. Others of you have had more varied experiences, perhaps you attended a Science and Technology school with an emphasis on inquiry learning, or maybe an outdoor education school with an emphasis on adventure education, or maybe you were a home-school learner. Whatever the case in your history, you have a variety of experiences from which you can draw.

There are a wide variety of possible learning environments in both Face to Face and online contexts. You might be familiar with Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher in the 1986 movie where the dull, dry, monotone delivery of a lecture is portrayed.

Ferris Bueller’s Economics teacher

Or, perhaps, you are familiar with this scene from the 1950s, which might be analogous to some teachers who simply throw everything at their learners in a way that is far too fast for their learners to process. Some people also call this method ‘drinking from a fire hose’.

Lucy and Ethel at the Chocolate Factory

Predicting school in Y2K.

Or, for a more technologically enhanced prediction from the early 1900s, there is this image from France predicting what school would look like in the year 2000.

France in XXI Century. School

University in 1350

Perhaps you recognize this scene depicting a university lecture in 1350 in Bologna.

Laurentius de Voltolina 001.jpg
By Laurentius de Voltolina – The Yorck Project (2002) 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei (DVD-ROM), distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. ISBN: 3936122202., Public Domain, Link

I hope it is obvious to you that not all teaching and learning environments are actually conducive to learning. Whether a teacher is putting their learners to sleep, or forcing too much content, or trying to rely on a techno-magical solution, there are problems with all of the learning environments shown above.

To get you thinking about how to design effective learning environments, please take a few minutes to read Chapter 21 (‘Using the First Principles of Instruction to Make Instruction Effective, Efficient, and Engaging’) of Foundations of learning and Instructional Design Technology.

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