Bridge Business College has recently undertaken an innovative approach to learning – open learning. The open learning environment is quite different from a traditional learning environment. Although initially, it can be quite confronting to students and trainers, after two weeks we have noticed students and trainers settling into their new modern premises and environment at Bridge Business College.
So what’s different about Bridge’s open learning environment?
Nothing really – except the walls have been removed. Walls we found that were barriers to learning and student engagement.
We want our students to come to Bridge and enjoy their time on campus during lessons and actually take away some new knowledge with them. Knowing the difficulties such as loneliness, that our international students who come from all corners of the globe face, we wanted our students to also connect with each other. ‘Connecting and communicating’ with people is another essential soft skill needed for people to be successful in this fast-paced inter-connected world in which we live.
Students in our Advance Diploma Class will know, from the insights of our experienced Business trainer extraordinaire, Nelson, that for any businesses or entrepreneur to be successful, they must continuously be innovative, they must be ahead of the market, they must engage and listen to all stakeholders and they must set up a strategic plan.
Engagement and innovation
Bridge Business College has been established and operating successfully now for 26 years. As part of Bridge’ overarching, long term strategic plan, we sought the engagement of trainers, students and other stakeholders to actively contribute to the future organisational development of Bridge. It was through this engagement of those who were contributing, that we set about undertaking this dynamic and innovative learning environment in our new modern premises.
In the lead up to the move to our new premises, through our communication plan, students were advised of our plan to go paperless. This gave students the opportunity to think about technology and how we can best utilise it and also, the opportunity to think about the learning environment we were moving from and what we wanted to go to. This in turn, encouraged students, who are a vital stakeholder to Bridge, to actively contribute to the further development of innovative learning ideas. From this, we found that the barriers to learning, communication, connecting and engaging were the traditional styles of a classroom.
Open learning and traditional classrooms
So we removed the walls and removed the standard desktop computers from the learning environment which led to creating the most dynamic and modern learning environment – open learning.
The open learning environment is across two of our five floors. It is funky, vibrant, relaxing but most of all, engaging. Students have the choice of sitting at a desk, pulling up a stool or sitting comfortably on the floor. As we make minor adjustments to acoustics, students will begin to realise that the learning environment is theirs to make as they feel comfortable and that each time they come in, the ‘classroom’ can be different.
The removal of walls didn’t stop at the classrooms. We removed the barriers to our staff and in doing so, have made staff and trainers more accessible to each other as well as, our students. Accessibility to each other is a really important key factor at Bridge, as we believe that developing and maintaining relationships between our ‘Bridge Family’, has always been a driving factor to the success of Bridge.
The open learning environment, although quite distinct, is only a part of our learning environment that students will utilise when attending the College. We recognise that not everyone has access to technological devices and we realise that internet research is another vital part of learning. We simply took the computers out of the main learning areas and established computer labs that allow students access to them whenever they want during College hours.
At Bridge, we are leaders in delivering quality learning programs and our new premises and innovative learning environments, set us apart, once again, from other ordinary colleges.
Tracy Sedman is a Professional Development Manager at Bridge Business College.