Innovative learning spaces: Catalysts/agents for change, or ‘just another fad’?
Source TitleSchool Space and Its Occupation Conceptualising and Evaluating Innovative Learning Environments
PublisherBrill - Sense
University of Melbourne Author/sImms, Wesley
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
CitationsImms, W, Innovative learning spaces: Catalysts/agents for change, or ‘just another fad’?, School Space and Its Occupation Conceptualising and Evaluating Innovative Learning Environments, 2018, 1, pp. 107 - 120
Access StatusOpen Access
Various announcements about the death of the traditional classroom are proving premature; first because research is not providing conclusive evidence that ‘non-traditional’ classroom spaces have advantages that warrant such pronouncements; and second, because traditional classrooms are needed in any school that seeks true spatial flexibility. The focus of mature debate on this topic is shifting from advocating radical departures from the norm, towards the provision of a range of spaces that accommodates the huge array of preferred learning and teaching styles that occur in schools. This focus on teacher and student practices within a variety of classroom typographies, means the traditional classroom will retain a valuable role in the education of our students. This is not to say what we presently call innovative learning environments (ILEs) won’t eventually prove to be a significant agent of change. They most probably shall. However, this is likely to be in terms of their capacity to add to teachers’ pedagogic repertoire (thus improved affective and effective outcomes for students), and not as a stand alone catalyst for change as some ‘21st century learning’ advocates might predict. This chapter will draw on historical precedents and emerging research in learning environments evaluation to argue what we are witnessing is not a revolution, but simply another chapter in a sustained, multi-faceted and slow-moving reconceptualization of the role of space in education. This slow change accounts for a myriad of variables far more complex that the current futuristic digital native discourse, and relies on sustainable changes in practice based on sound evaluation practices. As such, this broader-focused debate, if undertaken wisely, is likely to see sustained rather than fad-like change concerning the design of our schools.
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