This is a short photo summary of Scotch Oakburn College in Tasmania, Australia we at FNI started working on in 2004. I am so excited to see the fruits of our labors, and those of our local architectural colleagues on this project. The school is organized into learning communities of 150 students with associated space to help them define their identity as a small community within the larger school. Integrated project-based learning is a strong part of the school's philosophy to teaching and learning.
This first space is what we call the DaVinci Studio. DaVinci was a Renaissance Man, someone who integrated the disciplines and did not think of him self as one thing of another. In the same vein, we encourage educators to think of the Studio (fully equipped for both science and art) as a studio for integrated project-based learning. We are proponents of moving full tilt forward with wireless laptop computing across the entire campus including the outdoor spaces surrounding the building. Kids may or may not have access at home. If they do, then they take to the environment right way, if they don't, they now have access they didn't have. This allows for learning outside of the classroom and lots of communication between teacher and students outside of class time. Bean bags are a must in all classrooms and spaces in the school! They create personal space for students when they need it. Think of this happening in a US school - forget it, such stodgy administrators I want to puke! Let kids be kids once in a while. The revolution within classrooms are the Smart Boards that allow teachers and students to access the web from the classroom making every single classroom a potential distance learning lab. Using simple tools like Skype, that now eight million people are using for free when connecting computer to computer, kids can communicate with their peers in Japan, Indonesia, or even the United States (if you get the time zones to work out). Most teachers I've seen control this technology for lecturing, but that is a sad state of affairs! This tool, placed responsibly in the hands of students could unleash an amazing outpouring of exploration and self-directed learning! Outdoor space is a critical must for kids (and adults for that matter). Vitamin D from the sun, fresh air to breath, and outdoor learning opportunities make it a simple no brainer. Of all the ideas we propose, indoor-outdoor connections are one of the most favorite for teachers and students.