European Schoolnet's Future Classroom Lab (FCL) has inspired several teachers, schools and organisations to create their own "learning labs" or "learning spaces". Also, other independent, similar initiatives have shown interest to link up with FCL to develop their concept and exchange ideas. European Schoolnet is linking these learning labs and initiatives together by offering an open network as a platform to exchange on their experiences. You can see the network learning labs in this map.
What is a 'learning lab'?
All the learning labs are independent initiatives, often inspired by the original Future Classroom Lab set up by European Schoolnet in Brussels. A learning lab or space does not need to be identical with the original FCL. In fact, all learning labs are different since they have been created and adapted to the local context and to provide for local needs. However, the main ideas of the Future Classroom Lab are present in most cases. The criteria suggests that:
- It is a flexible learning space and allows for easy reconfiguration according to the needs of the learning activity. It allows for easy and flexible repositioning of learners and teachers.
- It has a mission to host innovative learning. Learning activities taking place in the learning lab aim to incorporate new visions on pedagogy, 21st Century Skills and technology-enhanced learning.
- There is a variety of activities taking place. It is a place for learning activities and trainings, but also for meetings and discussions about education. A learning lab is a place for practice but also for reflection.
- It aims to involve and to connect to different stakeholders. It creates a dialogue between teachers, school leaders, policy-makers, commercial partners, students, parents, etc.
- It encourages for an open culture, e.g. teachers can observe each other's lessons and provide mentoring. Students use the learning lab to take part in European projects like eTwinning.
- Communication is an important part of engaging the stakeholders and informing the outside world about the activities. A learning lab can be an inspirational lighthouse for the area (e.g. for other schools in the region).
We have identified roughly two types of learning labs:
- ‘Professional' learning labs: These labs have usually an extended target audience, strong management (incl. clear vision and organisation support), and a strong connection with commercial partners. An example of this kind of lab is Mustikas, created by HITSA in Tallinn, Estonia
- School-based learning labs: These labs are embedded in K12 schools, they have a limited target audience (e.g. students and teachers) and usually less commercial partners. An example of this kind of lab is "FC@Campus Zenit" at the Talenten School in Turnhout, Belgium.
However, the size of the space, amount of technology or the number of commercial partners is not crucial. What is important for a learning lab is help to rethink teaching and learning, promote innovative pedagogies, and support the competences of both students and teaching staff to use technology in schools in a sustainable way.
What is the 'FCL network of learning labs'?
It is an open network, led by European Schoolnet, and it welcomes different learning labs to join and exchange together on different issues like learning lab management, cooperation with commercial partners and industry, teacher training activities, etc. The network meets online on regular basis to exchange on practice and ideas to develop these learning labs further. The members of the network can also propose training events (online or face-to-face) which can be promoted through the FCL website and user community.
The learning labs that meet the criteria described above, are welcome to join the FCL network of learning labs. There is no membership fee. The network members can use FCL branding and a special logo "Inspired by Future Classroom Lab - European Schoolnet" indicating their connection with the FCL.
For further information on the FCL network of learning labs please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can access here the current network members.
How to get your own learning lab started?
Get inspired by other learning labs!
In 2017, European Schoolnet organised a series of webinars where existing learning labs shared their experiences and told the story of the building of the lab. Find all the webinar recordings here.
Publication: Innovative learning spaces
European Schoolnet's Interactive Classroom Working Group has recently published "Guidelines on Exploring and Adapting Learning Spaces in Schools".
The report provides practical advice and support to schools on how to develop and adapt learning spaces to facilitate the innovative use of ICT and collaborative approaches to teaching and learning. It aims to inspire school leaders and teachers to rethink their current classroom practice, and demonstrate how even small changes to existing learning spaces can significantly improve students' active learning.
A key finding is that the situation is varied across Europe, with some countries being more advanced in addressing the need to develop more flexible learning spaces, while others are yet to recognize it as a policy priority.