Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

3.6: Alternative learning environments

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Authors: UQx LEARNx team of contributors

    Alternative learning environments to motivate students

    • Walking Neighborhoods
    • PLACED-based learning and pedagogy
    • NH Example: The Wediko Experience

    One of the factors for motivating students for deep learning that is often overlooked, is the powerful change that can occur when a variety of different learning environments are used. Dr. Melissa Cain from the School of Education at The University of Queensland is passionate about providing a range of alternative learning spaces and provides some ideas in this next video.

    Click here to watch video lecture. (4:23 minutes)

    MELISSA CAIN: When we think of learning environments, we often think of a classroom with walls; students sitting at desks and the teacher at the front of the room pacing back and forth. If we look around more closely, we realize that learning happens anywhere and everywhere. We start to see that there are an abundance of factors involved in preparing students for learning, engaging and motivating learners, and sustaining that engagement.

    One factor that should be given consideration is inspiring students through working in alternative learning environments.

    Even within the classroom, alternative learning spaces can be included. Arranging desks so that students can collaborate in small groups, providing a reading corner, and establishing a virtual learning environment are possible. A change in learning spaces with attention to the affective dimension of learning, can bring about changes in behavioral and pedagogical practices, and provide greater inclusivity for the diversity of learning preferences.

    Alternative learning spaces can bring the community into the school or allow learners to develop a relationship with their local community. A change in environment can shift the focus of power, and bring the teacher and students closer together as co-learners. Often, it’s the outdoor learning space which is overlooked, but which offers great potential for engaging students in deep learning.

    Changes in light, temperature, sound, air quality, and space can all affect motivation and engagement. Allowing students to engage with their school and community environments provides a different perspective to learning within four walls. Vegetable gardens, forest areas, outdoor spaces for reflection, planning and dialogue, as well as spaces to display artworks and perform should be considered as alternatives to the traditional classroom.

    If students are involved in designing and creating these spaces they are even more effective. Lenine Bourke is the director of the Walking Neighborhood project (click) and Dr. Louise Phillips is a lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Queensland. Both are interested in alternative ways of learning, and promoting intergenerational civic engagement. In responding to young learners’ concerns about their lack of autonomy, Louise and Lenine formed a research partnership to provoke and promote intergenerational learning in public spaces. And the Walking Neighborhood project was born.

    So far the project has explored neighborhoods in Brisbane, Sydney, and Bagot, Australia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Seoul South Korea; and Koupio Finland amongst others. The Walking Neighborhood premise is simple – children lead adult audience members on a curated tour of places of the children’s interest in urban communities.

    This facilitates a new way for adults to see and experience public places, spaces and buildings. Children are placed in control of developing the artistic experience, guiding an audience, navigating the physical space, and sharing their experiences of autonomy all the while creating new friendships with people they do not know.

    Listen to the ways in which the Walking Neighborhood project encourages:

    • Learner motivation
    • Group collaboration
    • Trust
    • Community integration
    • Empathy

    And provides alternative ways to present knowledge and findings through:

    • Alternative learning spaces
    • Student voice
    • Student choice
    • Student agency

    These are critical factors in motivating for developing deep engagement competencies and reflect the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

    PLACED-based learning and pedagogy

    Dr. Louise Phillips from the School of Education at The University of Queensland has been an integral part of The Walking Neighborhood project with its Director, Lenine Bourke. In this video, Louise discusses how deep engagement through ‘place based pedagogy’ is developed through projects such as The Walking Neighborhood

    Click here to watch video lecture (8:13 minutes)


    New Hampshire Example of Alternative Learning Environments

    The Wediko Experience

    New Hampshire Example of Alternative Learning Environments

    The Wediko Experience

    Watch this video to learn about the NH Fish and Game’s Aquatic Resources Education Programs, Let’s Go Fishing, the Watershed Education Program and the school that has implemented both into its curriculum.

    NHFishandGame}. (2017, Nov. 8). The Wediko Experience. [Video File].


    Berkeley’s Farm and Garden Based Learning Program

    [Berkeley Unified School District]. (2015, Jun. 23). Garden-Based Learning at Berkeley USD 2015.


    MacMeekin, Mia, (n.d.). 27 Ways to Encourage Intrinsic Motivation in Your Students Infographic. Retrieved from

    ‘UQx: LEARNx Deep Learning through Transformative Pedagogy. (2017). University of Queensland, Australia. Module 3: Motivating Students for Deep Learning.

    In text citation: (UQx LEARNx, Module 3). In include specific authors as appropriate.

    Cite videos in APA format. For example

    [UQx LEARNx Deep Learning through Transformative Pedagogy]. (2016, Nov. 21). LEARN059 The Walking Neighbourhood. [Video File]. Retrieved from

    3.6: Alternative learning environments is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

    • Was this article helpful?