Last updated: 18.06.14

Digital education transforms learning spaces

New digital learning approaches are helping to transform the relationship that exists between students and their learning environments in one school, thanks to the introduction of iPads for children from primary schools, secondary schools and sixth form colleges. That is according to one teacher, who writes about her school's decision to adopt a blended learning approach in the Cambridge News.

Tricia Kelleher explained some of the benefits of this new technology, with some opportunities immediately obvious, while others were only discovered once the pilot was underway. Among these pluses are instant access to online resources without needing to book IT rooms; richer channels of communication; greater convenience from apps; and the creation of custom teaching resources tailored to the specific needs of the target students.

Interestingly, she notes that the one thing that teachers were not expecting was for digital devices to have such a significant impact on the physical learning environment itself. "As we come to the end of the second year of iPad use, the challenge to think differently about our school is now compelling," she said. "The personal device clearly has the potential to transform the relationship between the learner and classroom."

Among these unexpected developments are:

- Less need for a traditional school desk and pupils sitting, facing towards the front of the class where a teacher conducts the class using a whiteboard.
- Greater opportunities for classes to be led by learning rather than furniture and personnel constraints 
- Removal of physical barriers and a versatile platform for access to digital spaces

"I would argue that in the traditional classroom, the learner arrives confident of the pattern of the lesson, where the temptation is to learn passively; contrast this with the possibility of a learning space characterised by flexibility," she said. "Now the youngster enters the classroom with a sense of anticipation rather than familiarity."

For schools interested in exploring the potential for introducing virtual resources into their classes, Virtual College provides flexible and personalised solutions including learning management systems, virtual learning environments, online training courses and tools to improve productivity.