Designing 21st century schools


CTA Education Specialist Nick Salmon is at Harvard University this week co-facilitating the 2015 Learning Environments for Tomorrow institute for the third time in three years. The institute engages architects and educators from around the world in understanding key principles of teaching and designing innovative K–12 learning environments. This year, the program is demonstrating educational best practices by “flipping” the traditional lecture to on-line resources, and blending the content of those presentations with hands-on facilitated sessions.

Daniel Wilson, the institute’s Educational Chair, says the program guides participants through the challenges of directing money and energy into creating learning environments that will make the most difference for students. “This institute is uniquely positioned to bring together architects and educators to think about what are the learning goals that are going to be most impactful in the generations to come,” Wilson said. “And what are the emerging pedagogies that we see in learning theory, and architects who are thinking about sustainable design and learning space design, and furniture? [We put] them together, about a hundred of them from around the world, to have conversations — and scaffold them through a process of thinking about how do we marry educational principles that are most important to local context, to cutting edge architecture and design.”

In the past two years, Salmon facilitated an international group of educators and architects from Australia, China, Colombia, Jamaica, Iran, and the United Kingdom, paired with participants from Alabama, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

CTA_LearningEnvironmentsForTomorrow_HarvardGraduate SchoolOfEducation_NickSalmon“This year, the groups are being challenged to develop a design guide that characterizes spaces supporting 21st century learning. The design guide and guiding principles will allow each participant to apply what they learn to real life conditions in each of their communities,” Salmon said. “It’s exciting to be able to share cutting edge methodologies with other global knowledge leaders that can return home and immediately begin applying them.”

The Learning Environments for Tomorrow institute emerged from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero and the Graduate School of Design. Project Zero is an educational research group led by Howard Gardner, author of more than 25 books, including “Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice.”


Main image (click here to see full size): Sita Magnuson, a veteran “graphic facilitator,” generated this infographic, which summarized the major topics of one of Tuesday’s discussions.

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