Sunday, February 13, 2011

What constitutes a classroom?

I’ve been wondering this a lot lately, and it’s a question driving my brainstorming efforts for my teacher research project in my Investigating Classroom Literacies grad course. I’ve found that I conceptualize a classroom much differently than a traditional brick-and-mortar space. I’ve actually coined a new moniker for it: learning locale.

The OED defines locale as “A place or locality; esp. a place considered with reference to some particular event or circumstances connected with it.” So, a learning locale is any place where learning (the event) occurs—learning being the development or application of useful knowledge. It can be a physical place, an online place, or a mental place (i.e., reflection or critical thinking). It can occur socially among people or individually. It’s no longer confined by traditional boundaries. Because of Web2.0 technologies, we can learn with and from people all over the world, at any time of day, on any day. And, in more ways than we can imagine, we can easily share what we learn, in turn helping to facilitate more learning locales. Regarding material, I believe all the world is a text. By this I mean learning can be facilitated by actively making sense of the countless texts we consume in the world: situations, events, experiences, conversations, multimodal texts, audio-visual texts, written texts, spoken texts, and just about anything else that we can “read,” gain meaning from, and therefore learn from.

In today’s world, opportunities to consume, create, connect, and collaborate are endless. This proves that learning locales can be anywhere; they’re no longer confined to the four walls that we’ve traditionally conceptualized as a classroom.

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