Interactive years began to grow and to be recognized

Interactive learning environments

“an analysis of the classrooms and learning theories ”

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Reham Ashraf

Abstract

Learning is very important in our life.
School plays a great role in everyone’s life. It changes our way of thinking,
it opens new paths, and new experiments. We must give importance to the
education than other targets in life as it is the one the most important tools
discover yourself and the world around you.

Yet it’s not given enough attention
in Egypt. The problem of education in Egypt in the last few years began to grow
and to be recognized by all parts of society. The root of the problem is the
traditional education system that we work with, it forces the kid to sit in
class full of students to receive the information in a very boring way, the
children have a different background and experiences, they are living in a very
adventures environment, so forcing the kids to set and listen to the
information to memorized is not going to work, children need to touch and feel
the information they got. It also one of their rights to play and have the free
choice

The paper is going to discuss some
of the causes that made this problem rise like: memorized subjects, the lack of
technology and the absence of interactive learning. Discussing solutions of how
to convert the current curriculum to subjects based on children’s needs,
interests and patterns of learning promotes agency, self-regulation and
control.

Keywords: Play-based
curriculum,
kindergarten, teacher
perspectives, developmental education, interactive, learning.

1.    
The problem of education process in Egypt

It is unknown when the problem
really started but according to M. June Allard and Pamela R. McKay in their
research about education in Egypt “that in 1990 when Egypt started to face
a serious population explosion. In 1985 there were only one hundred and
fifty-five thousand teachers that served approximately ten million
students” (Allard, & McKay, 2010)

that means that every one teacher
had sixty-four students to serve. That statistical review was before what it is
called population explosion. That of course did not serve the educational
process, due to the overcrowded classes the educational system in Egypt started
to
deteriorate gradually.

Till it reached the current
situation where experimental education or self-learning is almost non existed.
The standardized exams are the only thing that matters and evaluate the
educational processes as whole which of course kills any chance of creativity
or thinking that can be found in the student. The main disaster is that this
way of current educating system is conducted on students in Egypt form a very
young age. Most of the schools nowadays are requiring an interview with the 4-5
years old kids so they can evaluate the kid and accordingly they accept or
refuse the children.

Such a stress to be put on the
children from a very young age, also be educated by the same old traditional
way of education, evaluated by the end of the semester by one standardized
exam, facing the stress of failing only by the age of five.

Lack of technology, adequate
laboratories and libraries is also one of the major defects in many schools in
Egypt. Unfortunately, most of the schools in 2010 still do not have any kind of
technological development. The libraries hardly have useful books to use and
the laboratories do not have any proper physical equipment or any chemical
compounds that the students can even see to know and visualize what he is
taught.

2.     Definition of learning styles

Learning style was defined by
several researchers such as Dunn (1979), Reid (1998), Fleming (1998), Kolb
(1984), and others. Gallaher
and Nunn (1998) compared a learning style to human beings ‘fingerprints. They
argued that a learning style is very unique and very individual, so they
compared it to a human fingerprint.

Scientists and psychologists have
developed a number of different models to understand the different ways that
people learn. One popular theory, the VARK model, identifies four types of
learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.

Each learning type responds best to
a different method of teaching. Visual learners will learn the best by using
pictures, colors and spatial understanding, while auditory learners will
remember information best by using sound and music, reading/writing prefer to
use words, they try working with others and using role-playing, kinesthetic
learners will jump at the chance to participate in a hands-on activity.

Although every type of learners responds
differently to the same information, there is only one constant fact, that they
all need different types of learning environment, that cannot be limited in the traditional classroom, where the
furniture design and disturbing is the same, without considering the requirements
of each class, and each subject. Changing the learning environment to suits
best the requirements of the subject, at the same time suits all the students
is the main aim of the paper.

3.     Technology effect on children

Today, more
than ever before, technology plays an important role in society. It is changing
and will continue to change every aspect of how we live. It is changing
the way we communicate, the way we do business, how we learn and teach, and
even it’s changing the way we think.

children
used to play outside all day, riding bikes, playing sports. Masters of
imaginary games, children of the past created their own form of play that
didn’t require costly equipment or parental supervision. Children of the past
moved… a lot, and their sensory world was nature based and simple.

Children now
rely on technology for the majority of their play, their interaction with the
external environment is very limited, it very often to see Children as young as
two can be seen watching a cartoon on a tablet or playing with a cell phone.

Child who
excessively uses electronics may become isolated and fail to develop normal
communication skills such as conversational skills, listening, and making eye
contact.

School is
one of the most important tools to make the children escape the technology bad
influence on their personality, as it introduces them to different types of
people, different types of environment, it’s also supposed to educate them how
to use technology to their advance, how they learn, search through it, avoiding
its bad influence.

This is why
it’s a necessary that the traditional classrooms of the current educational
system change as soon as possible, as the technological effect on children is
huge on their mindsets, their way of thinking, how to analyze current information,
and how to make friends.

4.     Interactive Learning environment

We live in an era where
interactivity is gradually becoming more available, yet our schools are not
catching up to this trend, instead we are faced with passive learning
environments where active construction of knowledge is limited. Classroom
environment is a second teacher for any student, a large amount of the
child’s time is spent sitting in a school classroom. This place is where
they will learn the various skills.

With the classroom being such an
important place, it is important to understand the ways in which to
manipulate the environment in order to receive
maximum effectiveness in instruction.

Classroom design should be according
specific design parameters: light, flexibility, connection, complexity, and color,
and texture.

Each one of those parameters should
be conducted, designed to suit the educational process the best.

1.      Light

There’s
no substitute for natural daylight in a classroom, but if sunlight is limited
make sure that there’s enough artificial light, lighting undoubtedly influences
the perception of comfort in a particular space. The natural daylight
might be that more light always creates a better, more positive impression of a
classroom’s qualities.

2.      Flexibility

Took
into consideration how well a given classroom could accommodate pupils without
crowding them, in addition to how easily its furniture could be rearranged for
a variety of activities and teaching approaches.

 

3.      Connection

which
is also evaluated according to the furniture type and displacement, is it a
moveable desks or chairs that can easily connect children with each other and
with the teacher, where they are centered in the space and no one is left
behind in the corner of the classroom.

4.      Complexity

the
more the design of the classroom is complex the more it is adventurous for the
children. The classroom should include more than one type furniture to suite
all the types of learners, it should include different colors, different
textures on the wall, shelves used should be from different materials, the last
thing the architect should do while designing a school, is using prototypes for
the classrooms, which is mostly conducted on the school, which lead to the
boredom that affect the students form a young age causing them to hate the
school and the whole education system.

5.      Color

The
effects of exposing people to particular colors have always intrigued
scientists. Color most certainly affect the way our brain works. Each
color has a certain effect on the students for example:  red—alert, increased pulse,
activity; green—balance, judgment, arrested movement, stasis. 

According
to stone (2001) observes that if any relationship does exist between the color
of the classroom and the student’s performance, the most likely associations
are red and yellow colors with stimulation and blue and green colors with
calming effects. Stone also found out that color did have an impact on
qualitatively different tasks (math task versus reading task). The color of the
surrounding environment affected performance on more difficult tasks, i.e., the
reading task. A further finding was that the lowest performance on cognitively
demanding tasks was in classrooms with red walls.

 

6.      Texture

The
ideal classroom design should continue more than one finishing design
especially in the early stages of learning, the should continue a place where
the students can hang their artwork, their assignment, their to-do list, it
also should continue a place for storage and a place for the board.

By following those design parameters
in the classroom, it should improve the learning process by increasing the ability
to engage in preferred learning methods, active involvement, collaboration, feeling
comfortable to participate, focus, opportunity to engage, physical movement, real-life
scenarios, repeated exposure to the material through multiple means.

Eventually it will make the students
feel more comfortable in the class, create a calm environment around him to
help him learn.

5.     Learning through playing

Playing is one the fundamental
rights for children, especially at the preschool stage, where all the children
can do, want to do, have the right to do is playing.

“how can my child learn anything
while all what they do is playing “is often a question that a lot of parents
ask for the teachers in the preschool phase, while most of the teachers don’t
have a real answer for these question. Will the real answer be that kids need
to play?

Playing is the foundation for all
learning for young children, and giving the child the time and a few basic toys
can provide them with a variety of valuable learning opportunities.

“Play is how children begin to
understand and process their world,” says Angie Rupan, Program Coordinator
for Child Development Center in South San Francisco, CA and
early childhood educator for over 20 years. “Children’s play unlocks their
creativity and imagination, and develops reading, thinking, and problem solving
skills as well as further develops motor skills. It provides the base
foundation for learning.”

Playing increases, the ability of
imagination and creativity for the kids, children who do not play have a difficult time entertaining
themselves as they simply do not know what to do without instruction. By
providing opportunities for open ended play, your child will automatically get be
creative try to think of different solutions, they get creative, imaginative
and finally they have learned something at the end of the day which is how to
get creative and how to think without further instructions whether it’s from
the parents or form the teacher, the child was able to manage the situation.

Children can solve complex problems
that arise as they play and learn a few mathematical principals as well. Blocks
and puzzles are excellent “basics” to provide the children with many
opportunities to foster these important skills.

Instead of telling kids to sit on
the tables copying some letters that they do not understand, and actually do
not care about.

 Is kind of education will
produce people who can discover and innovate, or will merely produce people who
are likely to be passive consumers of information, followers rather than inventors.
Which kind of citizen do we want for the 21st century?

 The educational curriculum should be based on
playing, it is widely accepted that planning a curriculum based on children’s
needs, interests and patterns of learning promotes agency, self-regulation and
control.

According to Tina Bruce There are 10
common principles that should be conducted on the early years of education:

1.     
The
best way to prepare children for their adult life is to give them what they
need as children.

2.     
 Children are whole people who have feelings,
ideas and relationships with others, and who need to be physically, mentally,
morally and spiritually healthy.

3.     
Subjects
such as mathematics and art cannot be separated; young children learn in an
integrated way and not in neat tidy compartments.

4.     
Children
learn best when they are given appropriate responsibility, allowed to make
errors, decisions and choices, and respected as autonomous learners.

5.     
Self-discipline
is emphasized. Indeed, this is the only kind of discipline worth having. Reward
systems are very short-term and do not work in the long-term. Children need
their efforts to be valued.

6.     
There
are times when children are especially able to learn particular things.

7.     
What
children can do (rather that what they cannot do) is the starting point of a
child’s education.

8.     
Imagination,
creativity and all kinds of symbolic behavior (reading, writing, drawing,
dancing, music, mathematical numbers, algebra, role play and talking) develop
and emerge when conditions are favorable.

9.     
Relationships
with other people (both adults and children) are of central importance in a
child’s life.

10.  Quality education is about three things: the child, the context in
which learning takes place, and the knowledge and understanding which the child
develops and learns.

 

6.     Egyptian educational system within criteria

In
the upcoming lines, the paper will evaluate and assess two different pre-schools
in two separate contexts. The first school is baby garden language school within
el-sayeda
zainab          as shown in Figure1. It will refer to this
area in the forthcoming as (Area 1).

Figure 1: The studied Area 1 includes the school and the
surrounding streets, Source: Authors illustrated from Google Earth.

As for the second school, it is in Shehab,
Gazirat Mit Oqbah, Al Agouzah , as shown in Figure 2, which will refer to it in
this paper as (Area 2).

The chosen two schools are similar
in many aspects such as the overcrowded location, same age category, both are private
schools, teaching the same educational curriculum, yet they are different in
the learning environments and techniques   
The forthcoming results are given through an Observation Methods.

Figure
2: The studied Area 2 includes the school and the surrounding streets, Source:
Authors illustrated from Google Earth

 

6-1 Number of students in the class

Area
1 suffers from overcrowded classrooms, a very large number of students sit in
one table that can lead to feeling of anxiety, which will lead eventually the
children to hate the place, thus hating the educational process as whole as shown
in Figure 3.

Figure
3: overcrowded classes and libraries, Source: official page for the school.

 

Area 2 the children number is small,
where its very obvious that children are comfortable and happy, also the
teachers are able to explain to each one of them individually, as shown in
Figure 4.

 

Figure
4: classrooms while the educational process, Source: official page for the
school

6-2 conducting lighting in the classes

Area
1 primarily conducting by artificial light, as the classrooms orientation is
not the north so they tend to close the windows with curtains to prevent glare,
which lead to the use of artificial lights as shown in figure 5.

Figure
5: classrooms whether the windows are closed or the glare is shown, Source:
official page for the school

Area
2 the classes are well orientated towards the north so that the students can
study in the effect of natural lighting as shown in figure 6.

Figure
6: classrooms where the windows are open and the children enjoys sun lighting,
Source: official page for the school

 

 

6-3 flexibility of furniture, and
the connection between children

Area
1 the concept of moveable chairs was founded, but it lacks the diversity of the
furniture as types, colors, materials. It was also successful in connecting
children with each other, but failed to connect with the teacher, as shown in
figure 7.

Figure
7: moveable chairs from one kind with similar color, Source: official page for
the school.

 Area
2 the concept of moveable furniture was founded, with a diversity of types,
colors, materials, it shows success in connecting children together and with
the teacher, as shown in figure 8

Figure
8: diversity of moveable furniture, Source: official page for the school.

6-4 complexity and color of the
classroom

Area
1 the classroom consists of more than one item and more than one color which serve
the basic concept of complexity and diversity of colors, but the items are misplaced,
and the colors are not chosen wisely, as shown in figure 9

 

 

 

 

 

Figure
9: complexity and color diversity, Source: official page for the school.

Area
2 the classroom consists of different colors but lacks the complexity as shown
in figure 10.

Figure
10: complexity and color diversity, Source: official page for the school.

6-5 Learning through playing

Area
1did not conduct the theory of learning through playing, it was totally depending on traditional ways of learning, as
shown in figure 11.

 

 

Figure
11: traditional ways of education, Source: official page for the school.

Area
2 conducted the theory of learning through playing, by encouraging children to
try new things and to think outside the box through playing, as shown in figure 12.

Figure
12: learning through playing, Source: official page for the school.

6-6 Activities outside the classroom

Area1 all the outside activities are restricted on the
playground which is very small according to their student’s numbers, also it does
not continue any trees or green spaces, due to the bad orientation problem form
earlier, the playground is sunny all the time so they used artificial shading to
solve the problem of the sun, which prevented any sun lighting from entering as
shown in figure 13.

Figure
13: activities outside the classroom, Source: official page for the school.

Area2
the playground does not have access to the sun light due to its location in a
very crowded neighborhood, it’s also small compared to their number, but many activities
are conducted outside the classroom, as
shown in figure 14.

 Figure 14: activities outside the classroom,
Source: official page for the school.

7.     Discussion

After analyzing the two case studies
by applying the deduced criteria, it is clear that Area 2 applied the theory of
learning through playing, while area 1 is still trying to teach by some methods
of interactive learning but the traditional education is the main aim for its educational
process, it still the lack of green spaces and exploring the outside environment
is a weakness point in both areas. A new approach must be adapted in learning
methods in Egypt, as the learning through playing theory make the children
think through the problem, solving math equation while thinking he is still
playing, memorize the body parts of the human without an effort, the children
learn new information, by practicing which mean they won’t forget it later, as
they knew it while playing with dolls or blocks.

The preschool stage is one of the
most important stages in the educational process, as it’s the main foundation for
the student behavior towards and inside the school. Yet it is
really ignored by the parents, teachers and the educational system. No one relay
cares about this stage how it can affect the children.

8.     Conclusion

This paper discussed the importance
of education and its influence on the society, and how it become a major
problem in the Egyptian society, It also discussed the different types of
learning styles, the effect of technology on the children and whether it’s a bad
or good influence, and how it can affect their educational process, also
introduced the interactive learning environments and how it can be very useful  during the education process, learning through
playing theory, is one of the most important theories in the educational field,
where if it was applied in the right way the results would be revolutionary on
the learning process. A comparative study has been conducted on two private
preschools to assess the learning process, and the amount of thinking the child
can have without the standardized exams within criteria.

9.     References