Educational Spaces 21. Open up!
on-line course


Module 1. Learning environments

The environment affects the way we learn. David D. Thornburg, an American futurologist and researcher, and author of a bestseller entitled “Campfires in Cyberspace”, has some interesting views on the matter.


He was looking at the technological development from the point of view of educational spaces and he wondered how the school of the future would look like. Because in a few dozen years we will be surrounded by new technology, it would be interesting to know how this would affect schools.


Drawing on the insights of anthropology (e.g. Gregory Bateson’s works), Thornburg thought about the primary learning processes in humans and proposed that the educational space should be organised in a way that enables the student community to co-exist with others in various educational settings. He mentioned three scenarios at first. Later on, two more elements were added to the list.


Learning environments: 

THE WATERING HOLE – a place where diversity meets (different people with different views). We come here to refill our bodies with energy and minds with ideas together, to inspire each other with new concepts. Everyone can be both a student and a teacher here.




THE CAVE – we retire to the cave when we want to flee the noise and peers, when we need to think, have some rest and be alone for a while, to focus on ourselves and on our thoughts. Here, we deliberate about questions, content and relationships.




CAMPFIRE – this is where we all gather, sit down together and listen to stories, talk and exchange opinions and information, work as a group on their own ideas.





SANDPIT/LABORATORY – this is a place for doing experiments, for making attempts tempts and mistakes; a safe place where we do not worry about disorder and mess.





MOUNTAIN TOP/STAGE – here, we share our knowledge and information with a number of other people, we show our potential and strengths, and internally – we discover our weaknesses.


Download the file and fill in the table. Take a walk around your school and identify the types and locations of the different learning environments.