ESALA Workshops - Settings for Learning

Here + Now CIC in collaboration with Architecture + Design Scotland, held two workshops with students studying Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh last week. The workshops were held at Edinburgh College of Art on Wednesday 18th February and Friday 20th February. The workshops were designed to test and gain feedback from the students on the ongoing project; Settings for Learning. The project is aimed to identify the settings and strategies that are needed for effective outdoor learning and to 'bridge' the gap between participation and briefing within design projects.

Here + Now CIC facilitated the events whilst Architecture + Design Scotland contributed to the workshops and provided feedback in a final presentation from the students. The workshops were structured by including three stages.

Stage one mainly focused on fieldwork. The students explored their learning environment by adopting user personas. They surveyed the outdoor spaces as these users. They made comments, notes and highlighted opportunities and barriers throughout the exercise. To complete Stage 1 they categorised their feedback and began thinking about priorities, briefing, actions and key thoughts.

The second stage tested the results from the fieldwork against a flow diagram. The diagram asked questions to encourage discussion and debate. This stage encouraged the students to define actions to address the existing conditions in their Settings for Learning and provided an opportunity to define; ‘One action for people’, ‘One action for spaces’ and to highlight ‘One Dream’. This was the start of building a design statement, briefing for action and a pattern language.

The result of this process was a series of visualisations created by the students. The images define actions to improve, change or develop the Settings for Learning in their learning environment. This last stage gave the students an opportunity to visualise these changes and present them back to the rest of the group. Each visualisation focuses on a variety of themes and some of the strongest headlines that evolved from the workshop were:

Stewardship :

no barriers to experiences in the learning environment. Opportunity to learn from doing

Flexibility :

the potential for everything to be a learning experience. The need for  a variety of spatial types.

Pattern language :

a need for a toolkit to allow learners + teachers to talk the ‘design language’

The next stage is to develop the workshop process further to utilise the feedback obtained from students.  The students at the University were vital in the process of creating a method for building effective Settings for Learning and their visualisations illustrate the great potential of the learning opportunities in our landscapes. Thank you students!

Here + Now are looking forward to refining and adapting the project and feeding forward into a workshop structure that could be a vital tool for affecting change in the way schools and learning centres approach outdoor learning experiences and environments.