Did you know that optimal learning occurs at 18 degrees? Any warmer and your learners start snoozing, any cooler and the shivering gets distracting. How cool is your classroom?

On Thursday 17th March, Stephen Heppell delivered an inspirational keynote about Playing with Learning Spaces at Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre. The centre had the privilege of utilising a brand new theatre, the Forum, at Macquarie University, right next door to our Centre. The Forum has only been open for a few weeks. And admittedly it wasn’t quite finished. The air-conditioning was not operational. That’s why we now know that 18 degrees is the best temperature for optimal learning to take place. It was the first topic of conversation really. Yes, it did get a little warm inside, but nevertheless, the Forum was a lovely learning space. When it’s finished it will be incredible. It’s all in the design.

Back in the Centre, Gordon East Public School year 5 students were madly creating short animations inspired by Tropfest’s 2011 winner Damon Gameau’s Animal Beatbox. Quite the challenge really, to design short films that matter.  Each team (and it’s sub-teams) had a job to do, including the documentary crew. Making a film about film-making requires a complex suite of skills, made more doable when teams specialise. Roles and responsibilities were defined and outlined clearly. Damon Gameau was there to mentor the film-makers and is keen to return to the Centre to work with students again. This is what true collaboration looks like. It’s all in the design.

Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design Year 10 students are researching how to design and construct sustainable buildings in Trinity, our OpenSim virtual world, working to a theme set within Sydney circa 2050. This research includes understanding how architects approach the design process, incorporating sustainable design features for the future. During the day, the students spoke to Stephen Heppell through their Connected Classroom video conference facility about the essential ingredients for good quality 3D construction in Trinity. The students made it clear that, you guessed it, it’s all in the design. Having Richard Goodwin, an eminent Sydney architect mentoring the class was also a bonus.

Later in the day, Stephen and I were very fortunate to take one of the first official tours of Macquarie University’s new Library with Chief Librarian, Maxine Brodie. When asked, she explained the lessons learned from managing such an incredible project. Her  answer: Spend most of your time on.. the design.

Throughout the day, Stephen continually highlighted the need to design the learning space so that your students rush to get to school every day and don’t want to go home.

How’s the design of your physical and virtual learning spaces? Are your students rushing to get there?