Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Differentiated Working Conditions

Do your learners have the ability to customize their workspaces?
Do you or your colleagues have the opportunity to do so?

I happened across Robert Scoble's phonecast from Rackspace, an IT hosting company. In the first minute of this clip, you'll see that employees of this company have the option to choose a 'lighting environment' in which they'd like to work. The employer is doing as much as it can to ensure the employee is comfortable at work.

Taken to the extreme, Lifehacker.com hosts a 'Coolest Cubicle Contest'. Check out these newly featured workspaces: Tiki Party, Cabin Fever, Cubes of War

It got me wondering: "What do educators do to ensure the comfort of their students?"

If a teacher ever had to spend an entire day sitting in a student's desk, one would likely come to the realization that it's none-too comfortable. Are the settings for our classes as conducive to learning as they might be?

1] the chairs are one-size fits all;
2] tables and chairs are usually hard and cold, made of molded plastic, metal, & wood;
3] the positioning of chairs is according to the preferences of the teacher;
4] the lighting is harsh, bright, and incessant;
5] the work hours are prescribed, and dictated by the clock;
6] breaks are at the discretion of bells, or the teacher's inclination.

Not that much can be done about this from an organizational point of view, but at least we can be thoughtful in considering the 'plight' of our students. For more out-loud thinking on this topic, tune into today's Teacher 2.0 podcast.

If there are things you do in your classroom to ensure the 'thinking comfort' of your students (or yourself!), I'd love to know about them... Please feel free to add a comment below.

Photo Credits: Bugtom; Anabananasplit