Developing a total learning environment for students in a particular course or program is probably the most creative part of teaching. While there is a tendency to focus on either physical institutional learning environments (such as classrooms, lecture theatres and labs), or on the technologies used to to create online personal learning environments (PLEs), learning environments are broader than just these physical components. They will also include the characteristics of the learners, the goals for teaching and learning, the activities that will best support learning, the assessment strategies that will best measure and drive learning the culture that infuses the learning environment.
A teacher may have little or no control over some components, such as learner characteristics or resources, but may have full control over other components such as choice of content and how learners will be supported. Within each of the main components there are a set of sub-components that will need to be considered. In fact, it is in the sub-components (content structure, practical activities, feedback, use of technology, assessment methods, and so on) where the real decisions need to be made.
The choice of components and their perceived importance will be driven to some extent by personal epistemologies and beliefs about knowledge, learning and teaching methods.
Learning environment from the perspective of a teacher, as the teacher has the main responsibility for creating an appropriate learning environment, but it is also important to consider learning environments from the learners’ perspectives. Indeed, adult or mature learners are capable of creating their own, personal, relatively autonomous learning environments.
The significant point is that it is important to identify those components that need to be considered in teaching a course or program, and in particular that there are other components besides content or curriculum.
Teachers should identify the learning environment that best suit their students to facilitate teaching and learning.