How ubiquitous learning spaces can spur reflection

Ubiquitous learning at the Sycamore School

ubiquitous learning(Ed Note: Susan Hennessey recently traveled to Malibu, California to check out some innovative schools there and attend Deeper Learning 2016.)

While waiting at the Sycamore School in Malibu, California for our tour guide, my colleagues and I were entertained by a tree full of very talkative wild parrots.

I had never seen parrots in the wild and was intrigued enough to photograph them, search for their origins online, share my curiosity with my colleagues to see what information they might add, and create a quick digital story of this process using the Shadow Puppet app on my phone: all in the 15 minute wait time.

Ah, the power of ubiquitous learning and ready access to a world of knowledge at my fingertips.

It is this very power of curiosity-fueled learning that Sycamore School educators tap into, daily.

A space for ubiquitous learning

A key part of the Sycamore School’s educational vision is to create space for continuous learning. Here is how they articulate that vision:

Every student understands that learning is not limited to school contexts and textbooks. Opportunities for observing, questioning, synthesizing, and creating meaning are ever-present in students’ lives. Learning to recognize these moments is crucial. Students develop the desire to pursue them and the skills to explore and evaluate them.

And we saw that played out in the intentional way the physical space is structured as well as the flexible nature of the way the learning experiences are crafted.

Turns out the young students at Sycamore were curious about the wild parrots too. Because of this, they launched into designing the best bird houses to meet their avian needs.

The design process, which includes empathy and iteration framed their exploration. Students designed, built, tested, and rebuilt three times and captured the process to share with their community.


ubiquitous learning


To see this innovative space as well as learn more about Sycamore’s vision, take a minute or two to check out my Shadow Puppet tour of the school.

Ubiquitous reflection

My colleagues and I value reflection. To support the notion that learning and reflecting takes place everywhere and should not be limited by classroom walls and school schedules, we used a Gopro to capture and share our thinking. This video may or may not include bike riding on Venice beach, boa constrictors, and henna tattoos.

Sycamores are known for longevity and hardiness. Thank goodness for us these intrepid educators at the Sycamore School are a hardy bunch committed to innovative education and are sharing their practices with us.

ubiquitous learning
Wild parrots in a tree, reflecting on Vermont educators.

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