We all know about school and every one of us has attended at least one. It is a concept so entrenched in our society’s culture an so ingrained a tradition that any new interpretations are not easily accepted. So the simple and safe solution is to stick to the familiar. But is that acceptable?
At VUC Syd the answer is no. We believe that educational institutions should be centres of innovation; places of creative possibilities and an impetus for future development.
This is why, in 2009, VUC Syd began to look very closely at the traditional classroom. Our learning principles required different kinds of workspaces - places for shared discussions and places to absorb and immerse. This led to a new learning environment - where Group Zones, Instructional Zones, Dialogue Zones and Silent Zones place the student at the centre and create a much more flexible study environment than at a traditional school.
At VUC Syd, our entire focus is on learning. This includes not only learning to learn, but also learning how to apply this knowledge in different situations and environments.
Important elements of lessons at VUC Syd include:
Real-world issues: Guest speakers from businesses, municipalities and organisations help identify relevant issues from the world outside the school. This leads students to be curious and inquiring, expanding their knowledge and putting this knowledge into practice by producing solutions together with their fellow students.
Teamwork: The challenges which the lessons generate cannot be solved alone. This has to be in collaboration with others, where ideas, knowledge and new ways of thinking can be exchanged in a safe and open environment.
Critical sense and creativity: Students are encouraged to take a critical view of explanations and solutions to problems that are presented to them. These should be looked at from various angles to see what works and what does not and consider whether things should be done in differently.
Communication and dissemination: When working on a challenging problem, our students also share what they are doing with others. They disseminate the work they have digitally produced through presentations, blogs, videos or other media.
The whole world is our classroom! Well, almost. At VUC Syd we have various learning environments - places for shared discussions as well as immersing in our work.
Focus on computer technology
In addition to our innovative teaching environment, we are convinced that it is important to remain focused on computer technology as a primary teaching tool. This is why the students who attend VUC Syd receive an iPad at the start of their course.
Our teachers develop teaching materials for iPads that motivate students to find their own way of learning and completing their assignments. This helps them to be develop their creative skills and their ability to solve problems, e.g. in the design process.
This can be seen in this film about Timm Nørgaard, VUC Syd student in Innovation and Design, who is developing his skills and thriving in VUC Syd’s flexible education environment. Here, he researches, photographs, sketches and presents a major design assignment using his iPad. View here.
We produce our own teaching materials because the change in our teaching methods also required a change in the teaching materials we used. A number of teachers develop our iBooks textbooks in collaboration with our editorial staff.
The aim of the material is to make the students active producers. Here, the students do not write a three-page essay about a topic - they make digital productions based on their research and investigations and present them in a creative way in the form of videos or audio files, for example. In this way our students also develop competencies which are in demand in the business world.