What is 360-degree learning, and why is it growing?
The 2019 K-12 School Giants Report shows that many K-12 districts across the country are emphasizing hands-on, practical and personalized learning. Educators and parents recognize the need for better career and technical education that is aligned with future vocations in STEM, business, and skilled trades. As a result, 360-degree learning has emerged as one of the latest trends in K-12 education.
Traditional curricula need to be revisited and better aligned with hands-on programs and activities so that students are set for success in the future.
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So where does 360-degree learning fit into all this? To provide a well-rounded education, many schools are designing high-bay spaces to augment an innovative learning atmosphere.
For example, a science class and lab may be designed and placed next to each other so that they can contribute to integrated learning. In this way, students are exposed to the highest academic standards possible. This is an important move for school districts that are pushing hard to improve their STEM and STEAM learning outcomes.
A core concept for 360-degree learning is that surroundings and all aspects of students’ experiences impact education. It also encompasses school environments, learning modules, and how teachers plan and deliver lessons. Most of all, it considers how students engage with their fellow students, the subject matter, and how interactive these lessons can become.
Some interesting examples include elementary schools that integrate group learning, STEM, active learning, and specialized learning through flexible learning studios.
One school that has embraced this concept of a new learning environment is Centerview Elementary School in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota. Another is the Coolidge Corner School in Brookline, Massachusetts, which has designed varied outdoor environments like outdoor classrooms and a rain garden so that natural elements can play a big part in the learning process.
There are wonderful experiments in integrated learning happening at the high school level, too. Innovation campuses with STEM-focused facilities offer immersive, flexible learning environments that expose students to curricula in topics like engineering, biomedical, and cybersecurity.
These are also designed to help high school graduates to earn associate and bachelor’s degrees. Some districts are introducing new design thinking courses that incorporate basic learning segments like science, language arts, and public speaking.
The advent of mobile technology has transformed learning into a 24/7 experience. It has also helped transcend barriers instead of being confined to within the classroom. 360-degree learning employs cutting-edge ed-tech to allow for personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. Students are taught the fundamentals and are shown how they can apply them to real-world environments.
School districts are also opting for creative renovation projects as a way to circumvent funding obstacles. They are diligently trying to identify and repurpose underused space for modern learning use. For example, elementary schools that are no longer in use can be converted into innovation campuses.
K-12 schools can no longer rely on just public referendums for funding. They have to pursue alternative methods to fund projects, and these innovative 360-degree learning environments may be the answer to that.
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The success of the initial experiments shows that 360-degree learning will only increase in practice.