I have a routine: table by the window, the one with the plug next to it, coffee on the right side of the table at the back, phone on the left. This is the best table as it has a view, but is also wedged in the corner, feeling most comfortable. I see other people stake out their spaces too: the girl across from me works on her laptop on photoshop, needing a mouse, she has a bigger table. We are both creatures of routine.
Of course, the environment is important, but not just the physical environment. Just as we arrange our in-trays, our pen pots and space for biscuits, so too we organise access to resources, to our social learning communities, to our support teams, our mentors and coaches and more formal resources like libraries and offices, photocopiers and HR departments. Whatever we do, whether cooking in our kitchen or mending the car in the garage, we curate our environment to suit the tasks, to ensure that everything is in reach, everything is in it’s place.
As technology gives us greater access access to our resources, to our communities, to our networks and tools, so our relationship with our learning environment changes. Instead of arranging the physical elements, it becomes more a case of carrying these communities and resources with us.
I no longer have to carry tapes, mini disks or CDs with me: all my music is in the Cloud. Similarly, all my connections are online. I know where to turn to for support with editing, with video, with technology, with ideas. My communities travel with me.
Physical environment for learning is still important, but good WiFi and a comfortable space to type more so. It may be that we need to provide greater support around this at induction: helping people to shape their support communities, even supporting them by paying for membership of professional spaces instead of buying bigger desks or a new coffee machine. After all, in the Social Age, i’m more likely to be working in the coffee shop anyway, so community is more important than coffee.
How much of your environment is in place, how much do you need to work on? Do you have all your communities around you? How should this impact on our learning design for new programmes? How much value is there is physical assets as opposed to online resources?
The world of learning is changing faster than ever: we need everything in it’s place, but that place may not be on your desk.