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Policy-maker workshop “Transforming learning spaces in schools”: results now available
The workshop co-organised by European Schoolnet and Microsoft, ‘Transforming learning spaces in schools: From vision to impact', took place in the Future Classroom Lab on 16 May 2018 with the participation of over 30 policy-makers and researchers from 18 countries.
In some countries, such as Italy and Portugal, policymakers are convinced of the importance of developing more flexible learning spaces and this issue is already a part of the national strategy for ICT and innovation in schools. In other countries, the need for more flexible learning spaces in schools is still not a policy priority or a specific part of the national digital strategy; however, some school leaders and teachers have started to recognise that innovative use of ICT and flexible learning spaces go hand in hand. Given that learning spaces have been identified as a developing trend in education, it is likely that the situation will continue to evolve rapidly and that adapting learning spaces will become an increasingly important issue for policymakers and school leaders in more countries.
The European Schoolnet's Interactive Classroom Working Group with the support from Steelcase and Microsoft published in December 2017 the Guidelines on Exploring and Adapting Learning Spaces in Schools that provides practical advice and support to schools that are starting to explore how to develop and adapt learning spaces in order to enable the introduction of innovative pedagogies using technology.
This workshop aimed at looking beyond the practice and to ask what do we already know about the impact of the new learning spaces, what kind of impact we expect them to have, and how can we move from vision to evidence.
In the first session "Setting the scene: flexible learning spaces in Europe" the audience had an overview of examples from Italy, Israel and Portugal on how such new learning spaces have been developing in the past years. The session was led by Bart Verswijvel, European Schoolnet, and included contributions from Rui Lima, Colegio Monte Flor, Portugal; Karina Batat, Beta school, Israel; and Leonardo Tosi, INDIRE, Italy.
The second session "Research: What we know so far on the impact of flexible learning spaces?" included two presentations. The first one was made by Ellen Vanderhoven and Christel Verdurmen from the Arteveldehogeschool, who presented the results of their study on the learning lab, Lab 21.0, located in a Belgium school in Kortrijk. Their research question was "Do flexible learning environments facilitate active learning-focused teaching for teachers in different digital and teaching profiles?".
The second presentation was made by Dr. Neuza Pedro, from the University of Lisbon. Her study focused on the educational activities that are developed in the Portuguese learning labs to analyse the differences between learning labs and regular classrooms regarding teaching methodologies, learning activities, and use of digital technologies.
The group discussions focused on four different areas:
- Architecture & whole-school approach
- Learning Labs
- Role of technology
- Teacher competences
The groups were asked to think about the vision, the challenges and to come up with three priorities or recommendations to have impact in that area. Finally, the participants voted out of all the presented priorities what they consider the most important ones.
The day was finalised with a panel discussion including inputs by policy-makers on their national priorities in this topic.