In 2010 and 2011, I made a point of visiting as many innovative schools as I could. I wanted to see what made them different... and if there were things I could help share with other schools. One of the things that struck me then (but took a few more years to come into focus) was the importance of Inspiring Spaces for learning.
One of the first times I remember visiting what I now consider a Future Ready School (long before James Sanders gave us the phrase to describe what we were seeing) was at Minarets High School in 2010. They had gone 1:1 with laptops - and were working hard to be "all" project-based learning. Not coincidentally, many of their learning spaces didn't look like an ordinary school. Their Media Lounge in particular struck me as important. This was the building originally designated as the Library, but as Jon Corippo and Mike Niehoff pointed out to me at the time, if they had called it a Library "kids wouldn't have come." Instead they created a space "more like Starbucks" with couches, high top tables, monitors, and plenty of shared gathering spaces... nevermind the view they took advantage of. (And, yes, they still presented a collection of 10,000 books in easily accessible and attractive shelves.)
|The Media Lounge at Minarets High School|
At Parklands College in South Africa the importance they placed on technology serving a purpose (rather than being an end unto itself) was also clear in their spaces; their students worked in sustainable organic gardens and an impressive recording studio - neither of which looked or felt like school, and both of which allow students to express themselves in very human ways. Iolani School in Hawaii also showcases a sustainable garden on top of the Sullivan Center, and the bottom floor is home to an expansive makerspace, where (among other things) students experiment with generating electricity while biking in order to power appliances (or video games). The students are also responsible for redecorating the building elevator each quarter, complete with sound track, lighting system, and design elements they manufacture on the first floor. The focus on student agency is evident even in their interior design.
|The Maker Space at Iolani School (2014)|
|Learning Commons at Albany Senior High School|
Gunn High School in Palo Alto, host of our flagship summit has also experimented with new learning spaces, including classrooms with Idea Paint to make the walls "white-board" writable, individual white boards for students, rolling furniture, and a variety of gathering spaces. The IDEA (Innovation, Discovery, and Engagement Area) at Glenbrook North High School in Illinois also sported idea paint on the walls (and columns), a variety of collaboration spaces, and easy access to all the resources of the library.
|Classroom at Gunn High School|
Now we're ready to take the next step in sharing what we've learned for the benefit of other schools... and it begins with us needing to learn a lot more ourselves - and needing to build our team's capacity in this area. We've gotten to work with around 3000 presenters over the past three years producing summits around the globe, and there was someone who stood out to us as particularly well prepared for this effort.
David Jakes was a public school science teacher and technology coordinator before he left to join the Third Teacher Plus and spent the next two years working with designers and architects to create learning spaces in schools. David was a featured speaker at last year's flagship summit at Gunn High School, leading a strand of sessions on Inspiring Learning Spaces. Over the past year, I've learned a lot from David about the process behind designing effective spaces, the need to help schools and districts develop their own drivers for their designs, and the wide variety of furniture and finishings available - not to mention a whole new vocabulary around architecture and design. I've also learned how important professional development is for the educators involved, both before and after a new space is created. When David became available in March, we knew it was time to act, and started talking to him about the possibilities.
|David Jakes, Director of Learning Spaces, EdTechTeam, Inc.|
#FutureReady #InspiringSpaces #SpacesMatter #DreamOutLoud #OnlyTheBeginning
PS. David is only one of several new members of the EdTechTeam in the past 12 months, many of whom I haven't properly introduced. Stay tuned for a number of other introductions here on the EdTechTeam Blog in coming weeks.