The term 360 degree learning isn’t new, yet its definition isn’t always clear. 360 degree learning is the idea that all aspects of our surroundings and experiences impact how we teach & learn. It encompasses the environments students occupy and the way space is used, how teachers plan and deliver lessons and the way in which students engage with the subject and their fellow learners.
Here we outline the eight key benefits to 360 degree learning at Zenith.
1. It creates a more effective student and teacher relationship. 360 degree learning frees our teachers from their desks. The teacher’s movement around the classroom helps to engage all students and provides more opportunity for guidance and support. It also eradicates the ‘back of the class’ mentality and the ‘attention zone’, that triangle of students immediately in front of the teacher, which receive maximum attention.
2. It improves the quality of teaching. 360 degree learning requires significant changes from our teaching staff, with a different approach to lesson planning and delivery and the inclusion of more participatory work. Importantly this model encourages teachers to interact more readily with students and be more imaginative in their approach, with full support from the school.
3. It creates serendipity and surprise. 360 degree learning environments are all about flexibility, giving the teacher and students the opportunity to configure the space to suit those particular learning needs. This means students have less fixed expectations of lessons and are more open-minded. An element of surprise when arriving for class can transform the learning experience.
4. It puts the focus on practical application and experience rather than just theory. The teaching styles of old concentrated on students noting down concepts and theories, with little time for practice (something that was usually consigned to homework). 360 degree learning puts practical application of knowledge at the heart of the experience – using group work, problem solving and team presentations to assimilate knowledge and put it to use right there and then.
5. It provides problem-solving and work-ready students. Interpersonal skills, team work and critical thinking skills are all nurtured and honed when students have more opportunity to work together to problem solve and discuss ideas. Easier and less formal access to teachers helps with this too. These skills are not only key to educational attainment but workplace success. Combine this with the fact educational interior design has started to mirror workplace design and you can see how students also benefit from studying in environments akin to the workplaces they will join.
6. It increases social skills and confidence. Because 360 degree learning puts more focus on empowering students and increasing collaboration, it greatly increases social skills too. It takes into account the classroom dynamic and recognises the value of the teaching and learning that occurs among the students themselves. Peer-to-peer support and teaching is harnessed with 360 degree learning.
7. It increases usable space. As educators face more budgetary challenges, it’s important to have learning spaces that deliver value for as many students as possible. 360 degree learning environments enable this, as they have been designed with reconfiguration and repurposing in mind, not just throughout the day or week, but within one study session too. In practical terms, this also means that teachers and classes can move between rooms with ease. Any space should support any lesson.
8. It’s a point of difference. Although the concept of 360 degree learning has been in the western world for more than 10 years, it is still not yet the norm in all educational environments. It is an opportunity to make our school stand out in terms of attainment and engagement against more traditional educational models.