What do we really know about how teachers can use the wonderful innovative learning environments being created for schools around the world?
Stonefields School, Auckland, New Zealand
Graduate researchers (architects, designers, educationalists) around the world are tackling issues such as this, but often in isolation. The ‘Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change’ (ILETC) project, based at the University of Melbourne, Australia, aims to bring this thinking together through its series of one-day ‘transitions’ symposia which this year will also be held outside Australia – in the UK (London) on 7th September and in the US (Grand Rapids, Michigan) on 14th September. The symposium in Melbourne will be on 2nd June. It will be interesting to learn where the research on this is at. Continue reading
The first in a series of forums by UK Learning for this year focuses on International and UK trends that are demonstrating through research and evidence-based practice the need to rethink approaches to preparing young people for 21st century learning. (Programme here)
The forum is bringing together the shared practical experience of teachers, researchers, design professionals and architects to share the new and developing perspectives and their implications for the design and delivery of new spaces to improve learning outcomes.
It will explore the global trends in education, latest research in school buildings, and how to design learning spaces to support users.
Contributors and delegates from national and international partners will present their views alongside
evidence-based case studies to support, encourage, enable and equip change.
*UK Learning is a membership organisation focused on developing effective, sustainable and stimulating future educational facilities. This is underpinned by the belief that the way to do this is to bring together teachers, educators, design professionals, researchers – indeed – all those who value the importance of improving learning opportunities and life chances for young people. UK Learning is also the UK chapter for cefpi.
The quality of the physical learning environment can leverage good teaching but cannot replace poor teaching. Can we help teachers make better use of this lever?
How can the physical learning environment become a lever for better teaching and learning?
A few weeks ago I asked a group of educationalists how much training teachers get in manipulating space. My thinking was, well shouldn’t they? After all space is complex, you can create all sorts of spaces for different things to happen. Indeed how you ‘decorate’ a space influences how people feel in it. How you arrange the furniture affects how you can effectively use different teaching approaches. The answer was, Continue reading
Partial plan of Epping Views, by Gray Puksand Architects 2007. The corridors have been incorporated into the learning spaces. ©Gray Puksand
The biggest, and I think the real, shift in school design is the wider recognition that a variety of spaces in schools and indeed outside schools can be effectively used as settings for learning, that schools can use more than just a rectangular classroom box. Continue reading
To understand sustainable learning environments it is important to understand how the physical environment contributes to a wider, more complex system. Indeed surely a building cannot be sustainable in isolation of its context and use?
Thinking of the building in its context was the theme that I developed when I was invited to give a presentation on the use and development of indicators of sustainable learning environments at the World Sustainable Buildings 2014 conference held in Barcelona in October.
We tend to think of the physical learning environment as being just the building. However, it is more than this. It is the result of interactions between the physical resources (including the building, technology and external spaces), learners, educators, content, society and policy. Indeed learning itself is complex. Health and wellbeing, affective, social, cognitive and behavioural characteristics of individuals can all impede or enhance learning. Continue reading
How can we better help teachers imagine the changes they need to make to improve their learning environment?
Manipulating the space. What can we do here?
If you believe, as I do, that effective design and use of space springs from engaging in meaningful dialogue, then we should be better at how and where we conduct these conversations, and indeed with whom. Continue reading
Designing Schools for the Coldest City Earth – Part 2
I have just been talking to a group of trainee teachers in Yakutsk about the design and use of space in schools. I was invited by the Education Institute of the North Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk.
The audience of trainee teachers at the Education Institute, North Eastern Federal University, Yakutsk
In most schools the design is very conventional although teachers and government are very open to looking at different ways of approaching school design. For my own part it was good to be able to learn about how they teach in their education system and what ideas from other places may work there, as well as impart what I have learned from other places. Continue reading
Today I am in Yakutsk, in the Republic of Sakha, Russia. I am here talking about the design of schools and kindergartens, and more generally learning environments with state ministers and to a conference.
Fellow juror Jure Kotnik (left) surveys exhibition of kindergarten competition designs in Yakutsk.
The World Bank is funding the development of kindergartens in Yakutia and has just run a design competition to encourage innovative solutions. I was fortunate in being asked to be on the panel of judges. Having identified the winning designs the next stage will be to invite the architects and builders to develop technical designs in readiness for construction. There is no doubt that in this part of Russia they see education as a key issue. Continue reading
Fifteen years ago I co-wrote a book on briefing for better design. Recently I have been writing advocacy for one government that reiterates the same concept.
Library at Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Briefing in many ways is a process of ‘thinking through design’ – both using design as a process for solving problems and establishing a coherence behind a design. It is concerned with creating a dialogue between those for whom a project has significance, particularly the users and owners but also perhaps other community interests, and those who have responsibility for designing and managing it. Participation is key, but the process of briefing should be carefully managed. Continue reading
Is the importance of a school as an integral place for the community being neglected? I ask because in these times of frugal spending most of the discussion about schools focuses on ‘education’, yet surely the role of a school as a ‘cohesive agent’ in communities and society is just as important, if we are to survive as societies?
So how does a school make real the notion that it is a place for the community at all? Four things come to mind.
First, simply that by their nature schools are communities. A school is a place where as groups, children socialise and learn to live together, sharing common aims, interests or ideals. They are places where students develop skills and character vital for living in and contributing to society. Schools are places where children begin to learn and understand their role in society as a whole. For most children, school will be the first community outside their family in which they will directly engage. Continue reading