Can we describe what an intelligent modern learning environment should be like? By intelligent, I mean buildings that are designed to support teaching and learning and those who use them. I think that we can.
Stonefields School, Auckland, New Zealand
I have been reflecting on how we encapsulate what a modern and intelligent learning environment should be like and thought I would share some broad brush criteria. To a large extent there are some linkages between them all, but it may be interesting to think about the relevance of each. They aren’t in a particular order and perhaps they could be thought of as different perspectives from which to challenge the space(s).
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
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
A sustainable school or university is about the role of education itself. But at a time when the temptation is to cut expenditure right back we still need to make sure that it supports the decisions that we still seem to be delegating to the next generation.
The Earth at night shows the intensity of energy use
A former colleague of mine, Yamina Saheb, Head of the Sustainable Building Centre at the International Energy Agency (IEA) has a dream. It is that one day energy savings will be a marketable commodity – so profitable that everyone will be clamouring to buy and sell them making it totally unnecessary to impose legislation on energy requirements of products and buildings. She hopes that generation ‘Y’ will make her dream a reality. But the ability of this generation to respond depends on the role of education that we put in place. Today we are educating the policy makers for tomorrow and we need to help them make better choices.