What are Learning Landscapes?
Learning Landscapes are a pedagogical tool that allows us to generate personalized immersive learning environments for our students to achieve educational success.
This powerful educational tool is based on the meeting point between two of the most widely known major educational innovations: The theory of multiple intelligences and Bloom’s Taxonomy. However, this is only the starting point from which to develop this pedagogical tool. We can set it up using other methodologies such as gamification, a flipped classroom model, or cooperative learning or project-based learning.
‘It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge’. Albert Einstein.
In this quote, Einstein wasn’t talking about Learning Landscapes because they didn’t exist yet, but he defines their essence very well: imagination, creativity, and knowledge.
Why are they useful?
We live in the age of information, immersed in a knowledge-based society that is quickly evolving as a result of rapid changes in digital media and technology. This leads to a new educational paradigm in which the profound transformations in personal and institutional life challenge the educational community to change the way they educate and learn.
In addition to being a useful tool for this educational change, Learning Landscapes respond to students’ needs by providing them with an audiovisual, intuitive, and functional environment that allows us to capture their attention, making the content more attractive, achieving greater retention of concepts, and enhancing their digital competence.
With this pedagogical tool, we make our classroom flexible through the combination of methodological knowledge and the design of customized knowledge paths with different cognitive strategies that increase motivation and learning.
Where Multiple Intelligences and Bloom’s Taxonomy meet
Did you know that Learning Landscapes are based on the meeting point between two major educational frameworks?
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework in which we can organize and rank didactic activities according to the cognitive strategy used to solve them – that is, the way in which we act when learning. It states that there are 6 levels of learning mastery: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.
If we look at them, we’ll see that they follow a logical order. We cannot build a house by starting with the roof. In order to understand a concept, we must remember it; in order to be able to apply it, we must understand it; in order to be able to analyze it, we must apply it; in order to be able to evaluate it, we must analyze it and, of course, in order to create something, we must remember, understand, apply, analyze, and evaluate.
In this way, each level involves a series of strategies that guide the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, and abilities to lay the foundation for effective, meaningful, and real learning.
The versatility of Learning Landscapes facilitates the definition of different types of activities based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, achieving an adaptable and flexible environment for our students in which to achieve the objectives we want to work on in the classroom.
Meanwhile, the theory of multiple intelligences proposed by Howard Gardner is based on the fact that there is not a single intelligence, but that intelligence is composed of a set of multiple, different and independent abilities or intelligences.
All people possess the 8 intelligences, which can develop – and this is key – until they reach different levels of competence. That is, intelligence is not a single fixed entity, but rather we can grow in different areas. Moreover, the intelligences interact with each other in a complex way, allowing a great diversity of intelligences, even within each category. Let’s look at them in more detail:
- Linguistic intelligence. It is the ability to use words effectively, either orally (eg. as a narrator, speaker, or politician) or in writing (poets, playwrights, editors, or journalists).
- Logical-mathematical intelligence. It is the ability to use numbers effectively (mathematical, accounting, or statistical) and to reason well (scientists, computer programmers, or logic specialists).
- Spatial intelligence. It is the ability to perceive the viso-spacial world accurately (eg. as a hunter, bodyguard, or guide) and to carry out transformations based on those perceptions (internists, architects, artists, or inventors).
- Kinetic-body intelligence. It involves the mastery of the body itself to express ideas and feelings (actors, mimes, athletes, or dancers), and the ease of using the hands in the creation or transformation of objects (craftsmen, sculptors, mechanics, or surgeons).
- Musical intelligence. It is the ability to perceive (as a music fan), discriminate (music critics), transform (composers), and express (performers) musical forms.
- Naturalistic intelligence. It is the ability to recognize and classify the many species of flora and fauna in our environment.
- Intrapersonal intelligence. It refers to self-knowledge and the ability to act on that knowledge.
- Interpersonal intelligence. It is based on the ability to perceive and distinguish other people’s moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings.
The foundation of a good Learning Landscape
Designing Learning Landscapes is an experience. It involves work, but they’re also a lot of fun to create, and it’s satisfying to know that we are creating an environment that combines playful elements with appropriate instructional design with activities that are both challenging and motivating for our students. This favors the development of skills that are in line with the educational objectives. With this in mind, let’s get to the how.
The foundation of this educational tool is to have clear the learning paths we want to develop, determining mandatory, optional, or reinforcing activities that are connected with the curriculum and that also allow the landscape to be adaptable and customizable to our students. To achieve this, we can use what is known as the programming matrix, which facilitates the designing of activities. The crossing of each box, convergent between the 8 Multiple Intelligences and the 6 levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, allows the creation of balanced Learning Landscapes with coherent activities in terms of their cognitive strategy, necessary resources, objectives, and, of course, evaluation.
The evaluation allows us not only to grade but also to measure and help students achieve their goals. It does not have to focus on a single act; rather, it is more interesting when it is the result of the convergence of different tools that we will apply depending on the activities that we schedule. We can employ assessment rubrics, papers, presentations, cooperative roles, projects, portfolios, written tests, or oral tests. This can also lead us to establish some classification or reward to award as the proposed challenges are overcome.
Moreover, as in any reality, we must make clear the rules of our Learning Landscape and remember the timing. It is important for students to know what is expected of them and when.
All this must fit within a space, an environment: The Learning Landscape itself. To do this, we will need a narrative or storytelling that allows us to reach the heart of our students. To do this, we need to develop a narrative strategy that helps students become part of communication, immerse themselves in an experience beyond data, figures or values. It is important that it is motivating, so we will consider factors such as student interests, age, etc. We may think of some content or subject that we would like to address. In this narrative the characters and the roles our students will have, especially if we give them a gamifying approach, must be given importance. We will use characters, plots, and conclusions to tell a story about the educational materials we want to transmit, so that our students will be the protagonists.
When we have everything ready (the learning path, activities, evaluation, classification, and rewards, norms, timing, and narrative) we should sketch our Learning Landscape on paper to begin creating. Then comes the time to move everything to a tool where visual communication takes on relevance.
10 elements to design a Learning Landscape
Each activity we consider, whether mandatory, optional, or reinforcing, must contain a number of fundamental elements so that our students are clear on what is expected of them, how they can do it, and under what conditions. We put the focus on our students to help them give their best.
10 key elements:
- Title: what the activity is called.
- What intelligence and Bloom category it works with
- What learning objectives it pursues
- Challenge: what needs to be solved?
- Result or final product to be obtained
- Materials and documentation required for the activity.
- Run time.
- What evaluation criteria we will take into account.
- What rubric or evaluation tool will we use to assess the final product.
- The relationship it has with other activities in the matrix.
Create it with Genially
Digital tools like Genially are key to creating Learning Landscapes. Genially allows us to create interactive content in which our students navigate a narrative world with infinite stories in which spaces, characters, roles, and aesthetics are coordinated by creating a frame of reference and delimitation for learning. Project-based learning, cooperative learning, flipped classroom, traditional methodology… whatever our style is, Genially adapts to the way we teach.
One of the most outstanding features of Genially is the versatility it has when it comes to teaching, allowing educational content to come to life through interactivity, animation, and content integration.
Thanks to interactivity, we create a communicative experience that brings us closer in any teaching environment and helps contextualize information, maximizing memorization, critical thinking, and creativity, and increasing participation, personalization of learning, and motivation in the classroom.
Animation brings our students’ attention to important concepts. That is, it allows you to easily locate the interactive areas where you discover the information we have placed in layers, increasing understanding. It also helps to prioritize content and increase motivation.
Another key point is that Genially allows you to integrate content from thousands of digital providers. For example, we can integrate YouTube videos, virtual tours, or even Kahoots. It allows us to have everything in the same place, concentrating information in one point and preventing our students from being lost in an ocean of information.
Therefore, Genially is a tool that facilitates the quick creation of didactic content. It facilitates the transmission of knowledge in a motivational way and allows us to become learning guides, while teaching the correct management of technological resources and fostering more holistic or intergrated learning for our students.
Many of our students are digital natives, and the use of digital tools like this help us to transform them from digital natives to digitally qualified. That is, Genially gives us the opportunity to instill judgement and provide knowledge so that our students are digitally judicious, critical, and competent.
Without a doubt, an all-terrain tool for the classroom that allows us to make the leap from learning technologies to technologies for learning, knowledge, and understanding that, in addition, invite us to be part of the ultimate learning community to master the art of creating communication experience: Genially Academy, the free platform to access a universe of courses and learning pills that will make us specialists in interactive visual communication and help us master Genially and realize its full potential.
Benefits of this pedagogical tool
As we have seen, Learning Landscapes are a pedagogical tool for generating customized study environments that unleash the creativity and imagination of our students, boosting meaningful learning. This is the key and the first thing we will notice: Our students learn more and better, and they will do it with more motivation.
Let’s guide students to explore and discover knowledge. That is, to learn by doing. These environments satisfy the way we acquire knowledge, not only as a means of where learning occurs, but rather because of their flexibility so that each student can use the content and solve the challenges we propose based on their personal way of learning. In this way, the student body changes from passive to an active agent and they become the protagonists of their own learning process, with us teachers being the guides who lead this process.
This is a great advantage for us as teachers, too. It is true that creating this tool involves some preparation work, but once created, they allow us to free ourselves from the routine to develop more professional and creative tasks, generating classroom time to orient and conduct a more personalized follow up with students, with all the benefits this provides for their development and learning.
Without a doubt, working with Learning Landscapes helps us to develop in our students skills that will be necessary for their professional performance such as problem solving, structure building, and the understanding of processes, all contextualized in a real-life environment.