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Challenging last century learning design space

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI) held its annual Australasian conference in New Zealand for the first time last week, attracting delegates from around the globe. Built around the theme of ‘Disruption’, the conference focused on innovation in response to change, with the Christchurch earthquakes as a major catalyst for rethinking how learning space design can support student learning.

Conference Chair, and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Academic Director, Dr Helen Anderson said the conference brought together 365 people dedicated to student learning who were practicing the business of developing educational facilities that best support pedagogies of the future.

"The conference offered keynote speakers of international repute, site visits to a wide range of innovative facilities as well as up close engagement with educators, researchers and designers," said Dr Anderson. "All keynotes were asked to host workshops and round table discussions to foster debate; this was a highlight for many."

The traditional classroom is rapidly losing its relevance in 21st Century learning. Designing learning spaces that support and foster the expected learning outcomes defined in current and future curricula is a new and challenging approach.

The Christchurch earthquake has provided an unexpected opportunity for educators in that region to rethink the impact of learning spaces before rebuilding begins.

"The appalling human cost of disaster events must give rise to new, better ways of learning," said Dr Anderson. "When facilities have to be refurbished or replaced, everyone involved has an obligation to ensure that the new spaces are better and not a clone of the past.

"To teach our students to be self-directed and global we need a different kind of space. Locally, Papamoa College has an interesting space that transcends traditional learning. Otumoetai College are about to undergo an extensive refurbishment which provides an exciting opportunity for them to support learning intentions and outcomes with matching learning spaces.

"Here at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic we are engaged in leading edge activity through design. Our Student Learning Commons promotes an experience that best prepares students for their future. We’re also in the process of building a Campus Development Plan which provides another opportunity for us to engage in creating learning spaces for the future.

"If we resist change or fossilise past practices we don’t do the best for our students. Education is fundamentally about change and educators have a responsibility to ensure our students have the best possible education for their futures."

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