What a wonderful opportunity!
I and a colleague, Martin Rayala, have been working with this concept
(i.e., reconsidering the nature of the learning environment) for the past 7
- 8 years. Simply, our belief and attempts at practice are to base the
classroom experience in aspects of reality. So as to make learning more
interactive and vital. A "novel" classroom, and idea about learning, is
more likely one that is limited to an acceptance of four walls and a
blackboard. Research would suggest that learning most effectively occurs
when it reflects reality and is problem based. Good museums are developing
exhibits that are engaging because they help explain the nature of reality
for the specific subject matter. In short a phrase that we have offereded
and shared at state and national conferences (NAEA, Washington, D.C. in
1999) is "Context as Content". By shaping the context of the learning
environment to be the content of learning students become more engaged and
have a better opportunity for learning.