Gallery of Learning Environment Insights

I decided to fancy up the presentation of images here, and I went with some unusual choices, I know. Given the fact that my previous blog post includes some more conventional spaces, I wanted to expand my thinking. I went with completely informal spaces in this slideshow, I just realized, though I suppose the writing center is kind of in between formal and informal. Many of the images also reflect more of my personal life as a mother, a wife of an oil industry worker, and a hopeful gardener. Learning really is all around us all of the time.

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I’ll use the captions to identify which image I’m discussing here.

  1. Writing center in action: As I often mention, I am the writing center coordinator on my campus, and I spend a lot of time there. I often refer to the physical space of the center as out little dungeon away from home, as it is located in the basement of the library in a little room with no windows and the library computer serve whirring away in the next room. Despite the easy tendency to see the room as depressing due to the gray walls and lack of natural light, the tutors and I have worked to make it feel comfortable over the years. There are computers lining the left and back walls of the center  that are open for use by tutors and writers (I’m orienting this discussion from the door that enters the room), along with one final computer station in the back right corner, where many of the tutors choose to sit while working on online consultations. If I think of the elements of space, form, and time according to the visual diagram in lesson 1.2, I feel like the entity of the writing center sits right in the middle of the axis: we have both a physical and virtual presence for consultations, we conduct both synchronous and asynchronous consultations, and while we tend to think of ourselves as an informal space, some writers who come in think of it as a bit more formal because it is a university service. When I think of the physical writing space specifically, I think of it as a synchronous, physical, informal learning space. I struggle with what kind of learning environment to call it, though: I think I’d consider it…I don’t know. An organizational learning environment? Maybe? This aspect has been difficult for me to work through. Maybe it will be clearer as the lessons unfold.
  2. The bag garden: I included this because I feel like I am always learning through my gardening attempts in our backyard. This is, of course, an informal, physical space that is synchronous. I consider it a group learning environment if my family can be considered a group within a larger community.
  3. Oil well in Hydro, OK: This is a well that my husband owned interest in until very recently. I included it because it represents a setting for his work quite often. I consider is an organizational learning environment, as he shares the site with other interest owners and companies under the common umbrella of being shareholders in the well. It seems to me that this is a bit more of an informal learning space for folks in the industry; it is obviously a physical space, and I think it would have to be considered a synchronous learning environment as well.
  4. The tent: This is a section of my son’s room where we often find him. He loves to sit in that tent and play, read, or snuggle with my husband and me. It is an informal, physical, synchronous, personal learning environment, in my opinion.
  5. The trampoline: When we visit my mother’s house in Kentucky, my son spends a lot of time out on the trampoline. He likes to run around and play games, and he will also take the time to sit in the middle and watch what’s happening around him. I consider this an informal, physical, synchronous, group learning environment (again, assuming that a family is a group within a larger community, since this is a shared trampoline amongst the folks who visit my mom).
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I am an associate professor of English and writing center coordinator at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in composition, creative nonfiction, fundamentals of English, and peer tutoring.

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3 comments on “Gallery of Learning Environment Insights
  1. Rob Reynolds says:

    Thanks for sharing this fantastic gallery of learning environments, Denise. I really liked these informal settings. Your son is luck to have such a great tent to call home (and such doting parents!). I’m sure you’ve also spent many hours watching him play on the trampoline as only a child can.

  2. Renae Bagzis says:

    I love your slide show – and am intrigued with your bag garden! I love gardening, but sometimes things just don’t grow for me!!

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