Talking about Learning Spaces with #edu646

I love my graduate class #edu646 (Design of Learning Environments), which I’m doing with a small number of great students. Yesterday’s class was intriguing since we had one student on a Hangout from NY, while the other two and myself  stayed here in front a big screen.

They all managed to do quite some interesting interviews on the subject at hand, namely: What consideration do architects and educators place on the design of learning spaces (both physical and digital)? So we watched the videos (look at the class website).

First, I liked the way the videos were organized and the interviews done. There is a subtle art in doing interviews to catch the savvy of people/experts and we do not pretend students to manage it nonchalantly from the beginning. But they did a very good job.

Then we summarized the main points made by the interviewees of the evening.

  • Impact of the tools that will be used
  • Concept of walled garden
  • AI & Chatbots and their influence
  • Tools transform us
  • Efficiency of the designed space (economy, resources, speed of connections, etc.)
  • Flexibility (and modularity)
  • Interactivity (let space help produce interactions)

Last we discussed about one particularly interesting concept:

“Space designed to invite people to lower their voice.”

In what ways can we design a space which invites people, for instance, to turn off a device, instead of imposing and order to do so?I’m sure that Jorge (who has the task of resuming the class) will talk about some of those in his post.

Then we made the only mistake. We bid goodbye to Yoselyn in NY thinking the class was over. But it actually wasn’t and we stayed 15 minutes longer thinking about stuff and about plans. Let me write a bit on those plans.

First, we’re doing an informal review of the main point “experts” look at when designing spaces and learning spaces in particular. At the same time we are collecting a number of resources (literature readings, Twitter profiles, blogs) we will be filtering and discussing later.

Secondly, we’ll study the literature (which includes a few canonical readings offered by me) and then look and see what of the above mentiones points are reflected in the readings and for what reasons.

The goal, by the end of the course is to come up with a super list (a manifesto, if you will) of features one should consider when designing a learning space. Of course, we will have to compile that list under the basis of some cognitive/learning theory. In the end, we should have something like this table:

|| Theoretical framework | Feature of design | Must-do to obtain||

Example: In the Constructivist Framework, if we want to achieve a liberally occurring process of knowledge construction, we must do so and so.


[Image: 1167, by  carolinespromiseblog. CC-Licensed]

[Image shows a very common classroom arrangement from elementary to graduate school. Under which framework has it been designed? Of course, this–as Audreay Watters would say, is edtech.]

In our case, we’re doing this under the roof of the(sort-of) open & connected framework of this course, which is being used by students, even though we haven’t discussed (yet) the paradigm–but certainly will.

Also, I proposed my students to begin (later) a little research on the similarities (and what theories such similarities respond to) between the following concepts:

A Campus || A shopping Mall

Facebook || A Moodle Course

The first two are designed with intentions other than pedagogical, but all produce an enchanted, enclosed garden. What appears so good about enclosed spaces that we end up loving them so much?

[Featured image: Cozy classroom, by Loozrboy. CC-Licensed]

The image carries this interesting note:

Inside Inglebrook Community High School, where the students apparently attend class on old sofas. The whole place had a very laid-back vibe that looked like it’d be great for kids who hate regular school, and bad for ministry-generated funding formulas.

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To Ashes, to Dust: Decadent Berlin, late 1920’s

Like Weimar’s Berlin, the world is crumbling around us. And I can’t help watching this video again and again. How can I say this… I have spent part of the night watching the segment from Babylon Berlin (the TV series on Netflix) where actress Severija Janušauskait? sings Zu Asche zu Staub at the historic club Moka Efti in pre-Hitler Berlin.

It’s a wonderful song, first of all, sung by her character, a woman playing a man on the stage. The choreography is so good, with all the people dancing in synch and singing too. The decadence of 20’s Berlin comes alive here, contrasted at the same time by the fresh look of the protagonist Charlotte, played by wunderbar Liv Lisa Fries.

Zu Asche, zu Staub
dem Licht geraubt
doch noch nicht jetzt

Wunder warten bis zuletzt
Ozean der Zeit
ewiges Gesetz
zu Asche, zu Staub
zu Asche
doch noch nicht jetzt

To ashes, to dust
robbed of the light
but not now

Miracles wait until the last
Ocean of time
eternal law
to ashes, to dust
to ashes
but not now

–Google Translation

Have a look!

Says The Guardian:

Babylon Berlin review: political maelstrom, a populist right on the march – sound familiar?

This big budget, Weimar-era German police drama has plenty of contemporary resonance. And even more debauchery …

A critic from Italy’s La Stampa says

Non capita spesso, ma capita, che si guardi un film o una puntata di una serie tv e ci si innamori totalmente, pazzamente di un brano.

It does not happen often, but it happens, that you watch a movie or an episode of a TV series and you fall in love totally, madly of a song.

The audience that identifies with the singer / dancer and the notes of a piece that evolve on the beats of a drums masterfully played become second to second almost hypnotic. The singer then, this Severija Janušauskaité, is simply fantastic. Wonderful.

[Featured image from the TV Show. Severija: Zu Asches Zu Staub]

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A case of a lost tape, the Puerto Rico Connection podcast, and a lot of #care4sagrado from the Far East

Damn, Alan got there first, once again. We had forgotten all about that tape, but before everything went sour he recovered the recording from January 1st, and this time at last & at least I did some work on TapeWrite to put together the show, finding images to complement what was being said. The title came naturally, Raiders of the lost tape!! But then Alan did his magik tricks  and came with a great cover art for the third episode, just in tone with the film-inspired title. See for yourself. He is too good.



Then Tuesday night I had a wonderful evening with my students of a grad course I’m teaching, EDU646 Learning Environments. I shared the package received from Parisa Mehran in Japan and it was all momentous. María Josefina titled her class post

The second class takes the name of “Parisa”

since she felt touched by the experience. I gave each of them one of the bookmarks received from Parisa and her students, and I intend to do the same with all my students (until supplies last…) for this semester. Yes, she mailed a whole lot of these beautiful handmade bookmarks.

And my students shot a selfie, which was then posted. Please go and read her post because it’s so good and so pretty comprehensive of all we did in that class, including plans.

This is the record of the moment I opened the package, earlier last week.

Bookmarks from Parisa in Japan!

[Photo by me. CC-Licensed, BY]

And all began with Alan’s initiative of #care4sagrado.

See the video Paris and her students made. And tell me this is not the definition of empathy. @Sagradoedu, please do a collaboration agreement with Osaka University!

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The Well-Traveled Postcard

In which a story is told about the routes a postcard took.

Said postcard, of a kangaroo, was first received in San Juan, Puerto Rico, December 2017. Huge jump did it take, first from Australia, east coast, to Strawberry. Arizona, where a certain Alan Levine aka CodDog realized he had forgotten to mail it. So he did and it eventually reached my students and me.



However, I was about to take flight to California to visit my daughter in Berkeley. And I decided–on a flash– to bring it with me and have it travel a little more.

Here I am pondering in front of San Francisco Bay at the Imbarcadero.

Postcard selfie 4b

Then, I took it on a stroll.

Postcard selfie 3

Nice jetset for a kangaroo, eh?

I love this postcard selfie, don’t I.

Postcard selfie 2

And this one too.

Postcard selfie 1

And so on and so forth.

Some do not like posting stuff late, after the fact. Me neither, but this is worth it. BTW, go check the San Francisco shots I did while accompanying the postcard across the city and in Berkeley: the gallery is here.

[All images by moi meme, except the postcards, of course, which were nevertheless carefully photographed also by me. All is CC licensed. Use.]

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Lists #2: Books of 2017

I regularly read ProfHacker‘s blog posts, and like very much those recommending books. I also read often recommendations from NYT, The Guardian, El País and Corriere, and I love the end-of-year lists of “best” books. Now, here’s my own book recommendations (ie, books I read and liked in 2017), with both essays and literature. I favor noirs at this moment, so the majority of books falls in this category. I find that fidelity to one particular kind/style of literature brings happiness and depth.

I use my GoodReads account to save books, since it has an immense catalogue in the three languages that interest me, Italian, English and Spanish. It also has an iPhone app through which I can scan a book’s barcode and save it, thus bridging the gap between the physical and the digital bookstores. I am not very comfortable knowing that it is a property of Amazon, but for the time being I shall let it be. I don’t either particularly love the widget GoodReads generates: It doesn’t work well with WordPress (they say it’s an iframe issue–of “security”, I guess) and in this case I was unable to display the covers at a larger scale; however, it generates some static HTML that can be CSS-styled on one’s own. But that’s it.

I like it also because it facilitates my entering review info or notes on each book, which is quite useful. Plus, I can export a cvs file with all my books whenever I want, so I feel safe about archiving something on which I have no control and could disappear as Amazon sees fit. I could use LibraryThing, which is mostly independent of Amazon, but it has no scanning app.

Books of 2017

Antonio’s bookshelf: read

Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art
really liked it
Very very good. I’ll write soon a post in my blog It is the first essay I read on the vernacular of the Web, the new language. Compelling, full of bright insights. Very instructive also from the point of view of education…

[Featured image — “A shelf in my library”. Photo by me. Use: creativecommons License BY-NC-SA]

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