Creating a Significant Learning Environment

Design Thinking and Embracing Empathy in a Visual Digital World

Katrice Wright

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When creating a new way of doing something the whole plan should be innovative. The new way should have in place set of meaningful goals. Please consider me the author of change for creating a significant learning environment for my classroom and or my entire organization. The TedX video from Douglas Thomas, A New Culture of Learning, Mr. Thomas starts by expressing that learning is the most natural and effortless thing we do everywhere except in school. Allowing my students to seek out how they want to learn is important. The students of today are truly different from the students of yesteryear.

Experiencing teaching in this information age is awesome. Students have more context rather than content. Now that education has finally mastered the industrial style of education, the learners have shifted away from the said system. Creating a Significant Learning Environment is allowing the student to have an imagination. Now, working with middle school students this is a challenge. They lack imagination. In their world, everything is given to them, and it is fast. Researching is something I see my students not really participating in but taking other’s opinions and then forming their thoughts from that given information.

Once I emerged myself into the videos and reading created by Dr. Harapuik, Creating a Significant Learning Environment, I saw that I have been moving in the right direction. With, allowing my students to have a voice. Now, I am in what I would define as a eutopia situation. I don’t have to prepare exams or administer any standardized tests. My students are in a very creative space. This is a way of teaching that is new to my educational career. I now can build my lessons around embracing empathy and help cultivate kindness in a digital world.

Evidence from the book A New Culture of Learning Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. This book allows the reader to have the full text of the change of several different learning environments. This information is all for the betterment of education. When we look at education and gaming, evidence shows that students come together with and build relationships. Students formed their communities. They used the material and the course reading to make sense of the actual lessons for the course. Gaming and communities are formed for students interacting together have proven in my class to be successful. My students create groups and answer questions via the platform Scratch. They use Scratch to make meaningful connections with lessons and create games that their peers can use to gain an understanding. 

“New culture of learning is taking root and transforming the way we think about information, and imagination, also known as play. They also reveal many motivations for learning across generations, platforms, purposes, and goals. We can see learning is taking place in day-to-day life through the fusion of vast informational resources with the very persona, specific needs, and actions. The new culture of learning gives us the freedom to make the general personal and then share our personal experience in a way that, in turn, adds to the general flow of knowledge.” (Thomas and Brown, 2011).

Culture cannot be created by one person, but one person can choose to join a culture. By joining a culture, a transformation should take place. Having our students to join a culture of empathy in a digital world having young children, tweens, teenagers, and young adults behaving with empathy will create a kinder digital pathway.

Embracing the change that my innovative plan consists of is important for the students and the world they participate in. They have to help create for themselves a fair embracement of empathy. Empathy is so important especially in middle schoolers let alone in life. I plan to have Tech Tuesday’s where students ready the book digitally and using augmented reality, I am Human a book of Empathy by Susan Verde.

Students will executive produce documentaries on empathy and then create a question and answer session. The sessions will be reflective and open the avenues of embracing empathy.

Students will answer discussion questions and have reflective Q and A sessions. They will utilize the Learning Management System, Schoology. The book has very meaningful and important points for the reader to make connections for themselves and the behaviors they participate in digitally. Working with the middle schoolers and teaching them to embrace empathy will be a challenge that is why I feel embracing change can open the learning environment for merging technology in reading with fun augmented reality and imagination. This is a major shift in how we introduce a new concept, we understand how a shift in a positive manner can create a wave of change.  Allowing my students to create documentaries of what embracing and defining empathy in their current visual learning world. Using iMovie and WeVideo for assessments, feedback, and discussion questions instead of the traditional paper and pencil will be a huge shift in my organization. Having students use augmented reality to annotate this book involves learning with play and imagination, this action can leave a different impression on their embracing of empathy and how they practice it in a visual digital world.  

Having discussions and allowing students to use different apps to express those reflective questions in peer to peer learning can allow students to have more insight into their classmates. Creating avenues for learning with students and a safe environment to display their knowledge giving honest responses is a method I use at least twice a week in my learning environment. We use the platform, Flipgrid. Students create a two-minute video response answering the topic question for the unit. Students can create emojis or avatars to hide their faces. Now, the students have the option to like or comments on a different student’s video response. They can give feedback in the comment section. I have the option of locking certain actions. I also can approve a response before t is shared with the class grid. I have witness students be very mean regarding student’s videos or comments they did not agree with. This was the perfect example of a lack of empathy in a digital world with middle school students. I have had to create a culture in my learning environment that is safe to post and create your videos. That somehow empathy will be displayed in our work.

 Working with the plan to truly have a New Culture of Learning must be proactive and taking with importance for the world of teaching and learning to be improved upon. Students are moving at a rapid speed with the information at the tip of their fingertips. The digital world must be safe and starting with our youth is key. 


Thomas and Brown (2011). A New Culture of Learning Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. San Bernardino, CA.