Thursday, April 11, 2013

Give Us Space

Collaborative Space
I have written about classroom space before, Kindergarten Classes Rock, and how much learning takes place in that type of environment. "Kindergarten classrooms are setup in such a way that just screams collaboration and student centered learning!" So when I saw this article about Nvidia's new campus and then 21 Inspirational Collaborative Workspaces, I thought it was very interesting and worth passing along as food for thought. This is a drawing of Nvidia's new campus, they are based in California and have been making graphic cards and other technology since the early 1990's. What jumped out at me is the caption above the picture. "The nature of building Nvidia products requires experts from multiple disciplines to come together, and the building is designed above all for collaboration."

Photo Courtesy of eWeek

On Vacation
I have been to a few buildings outside of the K-12 arena in the greater Phoenix area, that echo collaborative spots as where the real thinking takes place. Pearson and ASU Skysong are two that stand out as having created great collaborative areas for their employees and students. Each location provided simple, yet comfortable spaces, equipped with whiteboards, presentation devices, and areas for small groups to gather. Visiting other places is kind of like going on vacation, you usually don't want to leave and begin trying to convince your spouse that a move would be good for the family. That feeling however should promote reflection on your workspace and more so thoughts on what our classrooms look like. Here are a few companies that may sound familiar and what they have done with collaborative spots.




Real World

I understand that classrooms are not going to turn into the plush spaces like we see at JWT and Google, but we can't dismiss the idea of opening them up and providing ways to allow collaboration. If you noticed in the examples above, there isn't a podium or anything that forces the direction in one particular spot at the front of the room, sound familiar? Maybe we can help show the benefits of these collaborative spaces by picking a few spots around campuses where adults gather and set them up to be more collaborative locations. Subtly making some changes may be the way for others to realize the benefit and be more comfortable with transforming their workspace and classrooms. Here are a few ideas.

-Ask teachers what type of environment best suits collaboration.

-Hang a whiteboard where teachers gather.

-Comfortable furniture.

-Place to plug in device, could be a power strip makes the difference in staying in a group of collaborating teachers or retreating back to classroom.

-Coffee, you've been to Starbucks right?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bye Bye Reader

Retirement Announced
It has been about three weeks since Google announced the retirement of Google Reader on July 1, 2013. Petitions quickly appeared and many supporters have been very vocal about their favorite reader being laid to rest.      

"We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months."

Move On
I can understand being a bit sad that Google Reader is nearing the end of a good run, it has become a home page tab in my browser since 2010. But instead of trying to understand Google’s decision or what significant damage some may think shutting down Google Reader will cause, I am focused on finding a replacement 

The good news is that there are choices and room for new and innovative ideas to come to life. In the world of RSS feed reading services now is the time to let your voice be heard on what you want in the perfect reader, ears are listening.