The Best Of Different Worlds

Untitled-1Learning we do all the time, why should a place called school have a privilege here?  Social media and interaction among peers provide equal or even better opportunities for learning (1) .  Isn’t it time to tear down the walls between school and every day learning; to get rid of the distinction between formal and informal learning (2)? Those in favor of a division and do want to safeguard school as a predominant place of learning argue that we need to focus on intended goals, not causal results; that teacher support is essential to guide the learner; and that individual accountability is essential to reach high stake outcomes. Since schools have been with us for such a long time one is tempted to believe that (formal) learning should be dealt with in schools preferably. But need that be? Questioning this produces all kinds of defense walls: what kind of certification will we have?; who determines content?; who will teach?; or how can we deal with variety in outcomes? The divides have been cultivated for ages, so it seems. Fusing both views, however, could still be an option.

At least if we follow the model outlined in an article advocating a rapprochement of learning attributes of both formal and informal learning. The argument is that with the increased use of social media we have created new opportunities for learning. The social media attributes of learning are found in: highly connected interaction, self-determined and peer influenced learning, with user generated content, under network support, and having an open ended evaluation.

A symbiosis is offered on two views of learning.  However fusing of attributes may not be at all sufficient to create a living in harmony. Ultimately, with the introduction of social media in education, we have to (re)define the position of school, and the nature of learning in  schools. In an era of dense social communication and ease of access to get all kinds of content knowledge (say The Internet) the claimed position of schools is at issue (3). Reconceptualizing its position may designate promising tasks for the establishment in the social media era. It can be a resource and expertise center, a certification institute, a coaching or counseling agency, a practice facility, a communication spot, and a lot more.


Christine Greenhow & Cathy Lewin (2016) Social media and education:reconceptualizing the boundaries of formal and informal learning, Learning, Media andTechnology, 41:1, 6-30, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2015.1064954 To link to this article:






Feeling at Home


The life we live has much to do with the environment we live in. Our room, our house, our neighborhood are spaces that will affect the way we feel, behave, and even reason. The so-called built environment has a profound effect on our well-being. That is why designers and architects of spaces have such a great responsibility; they create relatively lasting worlds. More so even for maintaining these worlds. When you neglect cleaning your room, are careless in maintaining your house, or inattentive to your neighborhood, it will not only show but also strike back on the way you and others occupy spaces. Schools as spaces are no different. Some schools are built like factory buildings, uninviting and demanding; others like sanatoria, distant and sterile. How schools are built says a lot about how we think about schooling and education (1) .
For that matter it is good to have evidence that well maintained schools provide spaces where students flourish. A Dutch study linked built environment in schools (playground, classrooms, corridors, facility rooms) to school success of students (mainly study results) and found a strikingly strong relation. Well kept environments provided an open engaging space for support of learning (the opposite also unfortunately being true). The study’s outcome resembles what has been found in the medical world about ‘healing environments’ (2) . Patients recover from their illness much faster when they get well in pleasant surroundings.

Now this all is not to make a socio-critical point, namely that better (and well kept) schools are to be found mainly in well off neighborhoods. It is regrettably obvious. This is meant to state that built environments are not poured down upon us. As social spaces they that can be modified and refurbished the way we like them to be (more or less we can). We interact with our environment, and when it is not interpreted as a given or pre-formatted world to be coped with we can uphold it according to our own specifications. It is a matter of how we want our lives to be. Therefore a great responsibility lies not only upon designers of built spaces but on educators and students alike to rearrange staffrooms, create open learning landscapes, ergonomic desks; in short, get involved in effective school design.

Predictors of study success from a teacher’s perspective of the quality of the built environment by H. Kok
M. Mobach & O. Omta
Management in Education 2015, Vol. 29(2) 53–62 ; ª 2015 British Educational Leadership,Management & Administration Society(BELMAS)
DOI: 10.1177/0892020614553719