by Bart Verswijvel
On 10 and 11 November 2016 the Future Classroom Lead ambassadors and members of the Interactive Classroom Working Group of European Schoolnet went on a study visit to Copenhagen. We visited 3 venues with new learning spaces and we had a special interest on how new technologies and methodologies had been integrated.
The first day we went to the University Campus Copenhagen where Lasse Remmer, the Danish FCL Ambassador welcomed us in the Future Classroom DK. This Future Classroom has been inspired by the FCL of European Schoolnet. It contains different learning zones, all with fitting and flexible furniture, as well as state of the art technologies. The FCL is used by different groups of stakeholders in and outside the University College but it plays first of all a prominent role in the initial teacher training organized at UCC.
We were all very impressed by the concept of the Future Classroom Teacher. The title of Future Classroom Teacher can be obtained by the students of all disciplines. In fact students follow the regular courses but when opting for Future Classroom Teacher they will get extra training and be assessed in a different way. This means that, for example, instead of writing papers like the other students would do, these students will have to come up with digital or physical products or with solutions that work within a flexible learning space. The experience so far indicates that the Future Classroom Teachers have embraced the FCL wholeheartedly and made it to their workplace where they like to spend many hours of the week. During this first pilot year, 30 trainees have been able to enrol on the special programme. In the next school year 120 students will be accepted. Also trainers get training at the FCL so that they will all be Future Classroom Trainers as well.
On the second day of the visit we went to two schools. We started at
Skolen I Sydhavnen, a newly built primary school located in the old harbour, now a residential area full of new buildings. When the pupils come to the school early in the morning, they get much more than what you would expect from a school. The school is a place where students can develop different aspects of their personality. The lessons with the teachers are just part of it. The whole school environment and the social interaction and activities make pupils feel at home. The school is a place to learn and to live.
Traditional schools are a collection of classrooms connected by corridors and stairs. In this school we hardly saw traditional corridors. Every square metre, stairs included, is a potential learning space. The stairs are broad and prominent and they give students and staff the daily gym. The food in the school is 90% organic and students are involved in meal preparation as part of their studies. The school also takes initiatives to connect to the community. Parents have a space to meet other parents over coffee and the spaces in the school are also used by people from the neighbourhood in the evening.
The last school on the programme was Ørestad Gymnasium, a secondary school, again with an innovative and open architecture. Here we also saw students using all parts of the building to learn and develop. When speaking to some of the students we learned that they appreciated this freedom and they wouldn’t like to go back to the traditional concept of a school and classroom. They liked the fact that the school was paperless and all learning materials were digital. On the other hand, we also heard some critical comments - some students saying that from time to time they missed the intimacy of a quiet classroom to concentrate better.
It would be of great value if the experiences of more innovative Danish schools like these could be monitored and documented so that school leaders and policy makers in other countries could learn how flexible learning spaces are supporting new pedagogical practices.
University College Copenhagen Ørestad Gymnasium Skolen I Sydhavnen