“It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex thing in one’s environment.” -Steve Jobs
Have you ever wonder what a proper learning environment looks like? Maybe you’ve already seen one, or you already have a picture in your mind. It could be a spacious room with adequate lighting and ventilation, private space without much noise and distractions or a safe and stress-free zone where instructors and other learners are friendly and approachable. Indeed, there are many kinds of learning environment out there, but the important thing is you should know what to look for. Of course, you don’t want to waste your time and money on something unworthy right?
WHAT IS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT?
As defined by Wikipedia, learning environment can refer to an educational approach, cultural context, or physical setting in which teaching and learning occur for all types of learners and activities.
If you think your learning space won’t affect your study, you better think again. Many educators and curriculum specialists agreed that the learning environment is a highly influential factor when it comes to knowledge and skills acquisition. In fact, a learner’s ability to retain information, apply solutions to analytical problems and innovative new ideas successfully are associated with the surrounding where learning takes place.
Dr. Ken A. Graetz, the Director of Teaching, Learning, and Technology Services at Winona State University wrote on his research, “As students enter a virtual or brick-and-mortar learning environment, they form a cognitive impression of that space and experience an associated emotional response.” For example, students who were subjected to active and motivating environments produced quality outputs. On the other hand, if the learning space is full of distractions, students may perform poorly.
Educause, a nonprofit association in the United States whose mission is “to advance higher education through the use of information technology,” affirmed that all learning takes place in a physical environment with quantifiable and perceptible physical characteristics. Thus, like normal children, aspiring developers, and even developers themselves need a conducive learning environment to grow.
But, what are the impacts of the learning environment? To what extent they affect the progress of developers?
FOUR COMPONENTS OF THE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
Here are the four components of the learning environment and how they influence the student’s learning curve:
It refers to individuals that affect the student directly or indirectly through connection or relationship (like mentor-mentee, teacher-student, peer support system) which can contribute to students’ growth and success in their career aspect.
Before you start your journey to become a web developer, you must find the right place where you can hone your skills and build your reputation. Joining a coding bootcamp can smoothen your career path. Brendan Stanton, a full stack web developer, and current instructor at Coding Dojo East Bay Campus said, “Whether you’re planning your first steps into the programming world, or are a returning veteran brushing up on old skills, it’s important to find a course that works best for you.”
However, a course is just one of the things to consider on your checklist. You also need a strong support system to stay on track. If you surround yourself with people who have the same goal as you, it will give you clear directions on what you’ll do next and what to prioritize most to fulfill your dream. Having friends to share your crazy ideas, jokes, dilemma, and drama will make things easier and more enjoyable.
Likewise, collaboration is good for it opens the doors of communication and creativity. It brings out unique ideas when people code and think together. Working with other aspiring developers on different assignments and tasks will motivate you to learn and do more. Also, it has other benefits like new peer connections and expansion of professional network; which are helpful when you want to look for new job opportunities or change your career.
Inside the bootcamp, we encourage our students to work in pair to accomplish complicated algorithm problems, group projects, and logic-based exercises. Jessica Capo, program success manager of Coding Dojo, said “To help our online students, we’ve been trying something new out recently (hoping it works!). We’ve started creating groups for our students just like in onsite program, that way they have cohort-mates to turn to, even though they’re all online and remote. They can find time together to schedule video sessions on Zoom, and work through their assignments together. We really want to focus on making the online option more of a collaborative experience for our students to help them realize that they’re not alone, that other students are in the same boat as they are.”
2. TEACHING MATERIALS, TECH TOOLS, AND LEARNING RESOURCES
They refer to the teaching materials, highly advanced tools or others instructional resources provided by instructors/teachers which are aligned with the curriculum as apart of student learning support.
Learning is boring without learning materials for they enhance student’s learning experience. They’re the best tools to eliminate distractions and prevent students from sleeping, snoring and daydreaming. Why? Because they help them to focus on their lesson/task and sustain their interest.
Definition of Terms
- Teaching materials is a generic term used to describe the resources teachers use to deliver instruction.
- Technology tools refer to methods, materials, devices or products of science and technology which are used to aid people on tasks or solve complex problems.
- Learning resource means educational content in general terms.
These three may come in different sizes, shapes, forms, and functions but they have one common purpose – to support students’ learning, help solidify their concept understanding, enhance their skill set application and increase their coding experience.
Similarly, our Learning Platform contains cutting-edge instructional materials. To fully prepare our students in the world of web development, we give them exclusive access to our three full-stacks curriculum, web fundamental lessons, and Algorithm App. Most importantly, they can choose the stacks/courses they want to study. After completing all the lessons and assignments, they need to take the belt exam for every chapter to test their skill mastery.
3. CURRICULUM, TRAINING, AND INSTRUCTION
These are the core foundations of the learning process for they influence one another and play vital roles to master programming skills, languages, and frameworks.
A learning environment is like a cup of coffee. It’s a mixture of three factors: curriculum, training, and instruction. If you blend them well, the learners will surely like it. To do that you need to add some secret ingredients like love, care, and consideration for the students.
Personally, I view learning environment as something that provides instruction, but at the same time, it gives you the freedom to develop your innovative side. Additionally, it offers student training to facilitate the flow of knowledge and the delivery of instructional content/curriculum.
Coding Dojo has specialized curriculum programs designed for students to finish within 12 to 14 weeks. Aside from pair programming which I mentioned earlier, we also teach agile practices such as test-driven development, refactoring, portfolio making and many more. However, they may require intense focus and good time management on the student’s part. We firmly stand on our philosophy that anyone can learn to code when exposed to a good learning environment with intensive training and helpful mentoring from experienced developers, but we also emphasize that self-initiative and self-sufficiency are necessary traits to accelerate personal progress.
4. PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT/LEARNING SPACE
It refers to the physical setting of the learner’s environment, like the room set up, interior design, furniture arrangement, etc.
Nowadays, the core spectrum of students’ success is somehow based on their readiness to step up with the 21st-century economic challenges. The digital age modified and improved the educational system to put up with the global workforce high standards.
Therefore, a well-structured physical environment should evoke positive responses and hold the interests of those who inhabit it. It can strongly affect student morale and learning curve, so an organized plan to match it physically with target objectives and instructional approaches are needed. If executed correctly, it can intensify the sense of belongingness and student empowerment.
We integrated this principle in our eight campuses because we view learning environment as the total package of environmental stimulus where learning and life should be equally valued. We don’t want our students to feel like they’re in a cage or don’t have a social life beside coding (which is common to most developers). So, we provide them sports equipment and encourage them to do something on their breaks like play sports(basketball, foosball, ping pong) and do other leisure activities to have fun and de-stress. Moreover, we have common rooms where they can chat and spend time with other dojo students to rest and relax. Stress no more, yeah!
CHALLENGE: BUILD A BETTER LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
“All students can learn and succeed…but not on the same day and not in the same way.” -Dr. William Spady
Coding schools and bootcamps continuously improve their learning environments to sustain dynamic learning and produce quality graduates. Prof. Stephen Heppell, one of UK’s most influential academicians whose expertise is in the fields of education, media, and technology proposed that changes in physical space would greatly foster student engagement and ingenuity. He believes it would create a new paradigm of learning.
In Coding Dojo, we have an immersive environment where students can fully submerge themselves to have a deeper understanding of web development and be able to apply them in the real world. In reality, we cannot create a perfect environment for learning because of multiple factors, but we can make a suitable environment to accelerate students’ transformation and progress through effective teaching strategies tailored to their needs. Remember, a well-balanced environment and effective teaching can promote productivity and satisfaction, and they make learning fun for everyone!
If you’re interested in learning more about web development, visit our website: www.codingdojo.com.
Written by: Noemi Balog 10/03/18