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Building a Learning Community of the Future (Part 1)
Posted 08/27/2019 11:42AM

To better serve the learning needs of students, as well as building a sustainable campus, SWIS's School Director Ms. Ally Wu and Head of Logistics Department Ms. Emily Zeng embarked on a learning journey on the east coast of United States. From July 22nd to August 4th, Ms. Wu & Ms. Zeng attended the "Learning Environment for Tomorrow" program offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, in addition to visiting 7 renowned schools and institutions, to seek solutions and ideas that will support teaching and learning to the fullest.

The "Learning Environments for Tomorrow" program is now 8 years in the running. This year, 104 educators and architects from 11 different countries attended this program. SWIS was the only school from the Greater China Region.

The program started with a bold brainstorming session called "School bus of the future", during which, the program facilitator Mr. Daniel Wilson challenged the participants to bolster their creativity and turn a "School Bus" into a student-centered learning community.

The program uses project-based learning to inspire its participants. Each attending school came prepared with a project proposal that aims to improve the learning environment. These projects were discussed and designed during the program. SWIS put its focus on the improvement plan for the loft space of Building D (SWIS apartment building). Our goal is to turn this space into a multi-functional space suitable for both learning and dinning.

After 3 days of focused learning and discussions, using the 5P Principles (people, programs, principles, plans, and prototypes) as well as the feedback and comments from peers in the group, the SWIS team created a design that satisfies the catering needs of different age groups. By using interchangeable decorations and settings, this design also allows the space for various learning needs. The SWIS team is planning to share this design with the SWIS community and implement the construction.

Space is a critical part of the learning process. In the near future, learning space will serve as an active contributor that greatly influences the learner, both psychologically and behaviorally.

With sustainability in mind, SWIS's campus was built with a plentiful open space that allows for future facilities development and modifications. Over the years, SWIS has implemented a number of renovation projects to meet the increasing learning needs. Some examples include using U-shaped glass to replace the exterior brick walls, thus allow plenty of natural lighting in every classroom; or having a shared learning area on each floor, a space that encourages group learning; or the purposefully built library, which grants students of different age groups their independent learning spaces, and also can be turned into a spacious open area when needed.

During this program of study, the SWIS team presented features of SWIS's facilities and architectures to educators from around the world: from designing ideas to implementation to the stories behind them. The other educators were very impressed by SWIS's achievements over the years.

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