European Schoolnet's Future Classroom Lab (FCL) has inspired several teachers, schools and organisations to create their own "learning labs" or to enhance their learning spaces. Also, other independent, similar initiatives have shown interest to link up with FCL to develop their concept and exchange ideas. To link these difference initiatives together Future Classroom Lab has created an open network of Innovative Learning Labs and Spaces. Find the network of 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 created by European Schoolnet in Brussels. All learning labs are unique and 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, such as the learning zones. 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 three 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.
- 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.
- Industry-based learning labs, created by commercial entities to showcase their technology through training and interactive hands-on presentations.
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.
The Network of Innovative Learning Labs and Spaces
It is an open network, led by European Schoolnet, and it welcomes different learning labs and spaces to join and exchange together on different issues like learning lab management, cooperation with commercial partners and industry, teacher training activities, etc.
The learning labs/spaces that meet the criteria described above, are welcome to join the network. There is no membership fee. The network members can use FCL branding (as long as it's credited) and a special membership badge indicating their connection with the FCL.
If you are interested to join, please write to us at email@example.com.
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: Building learning labs and innovative learning spaces
European Schoolnet has recently published "Building Learning Labs and Innovative Learning Spaces – Practical Guidelines for School Leaders and Teachers".
The 2018 review identified a need to develop guidelines to support schools that wish to create their own learning labs or to adapt their learning spaces in other innovative ways. The new report found that "The clearest indicators that the FCL is having a positive impact are evidence of increased support from Ministries of Education for alternative learning spaces and the creation of large numbers of local learning labs in several European countries". To date, EUN has identified at least 40 FCL-inspired labs across Europe and beyond.
This guide maps out, for school leaders and teachers, the journey from the initial thought that your school may benefit from a learning lab, through planning and implementation to use and evaluation of the impact of your own learning lab.
Do you need some practical ideas?
These guidelines have been informed by the experiences of an increasing number of teachers, school leaders and teacher educators inspired by the FCL in Brussels to set up their own version of the FCL. Discover the six excellent examples of schools and their innovative learning spaces described in the case studies: