If you would like to learn more about Innovation in Ontario follow our Twitter hastag #InnovatiON21c.
If you want to share an innovation from your school use our hashtag#InnovatiON21c
What is an Innovative Space?
“Look at your learning space with 21st century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we know about learning in the past?” Sir Ken Robinson, The Third Teacher (2010)
Many districts in Ontario are exploring the impact of the space on learning. Districts are looking to redefine the spaces that students engage in to make them more condusive to collaboration, communication and creativity. These spaces occur both physically and virtually. Changes in the environment in turn redefine teaching, learning, and leading. By critically examining the role space plays in the learning environments, teachers, schools and districts are being purposeful in how they use the space as a tool.
One resource to start with is The Third Teacher. This is a resource from the capacity building series that discusses the role of the learning enviroment.
Virtual Innovative Space
Many districts are experimenting with innovative virtual environments. Like innovative physical environments this places a focus on developing spaces that support students' active participation in the learning process. Districts are taking advantage of learning environments such as the provincial VLE, google apps for education (GAFE) and Office 365 to create these spaces. Virtual innovative spaces include online communities, virtual communities or augmented reality. Virtual innovative spaces use technology to create spaces for students to connect and collaborate. They create rich environments for learning that go beyond the physical space.
Innovative spaces for learning are emerging in various areas of a school setting. Examples include Learning Commons, individual and collaborative work spaces, student lounges, and more. These provide flexible learning environments for students that promote experiential learning, collaboration, and personal connections with others. Their formation begins with the educational rationale and purpose for learning.
Common Features of Innovative Spaces
Learning is social. The global competencies reinforce the social nature of learning. This means the traditional learning space of individual rows of desks are not condusive to what we know about learning. Innovative Spaces are purposefully designed to allow for collaboration. This can be done by creating different work areas in the classroom or school that allow for students to come together to collaborate. These can be dedicated purpose built spaces or flexible areas that are not as clearly defined.
Whiteboards or non-permanent vertical surfaces are often used to encourage collaboration and demonstration of learning. The whiteboard provides a risk free place for students to experiment with their thinking.
Using Different Seating Options
Flexible seating can allow students to both work collaboratively when needed but also independently. Providing choice in seating can open the environment up to different learning styles and needs. This is aligned to the principles of Universal Design for learning
Different Surface Heights
Providing different heights at which students may work is another way to support differentiation. This allows students to work while standing or sitting to meet their needs.
Examples of Innovative Spaces
How do these examples inspire your thinking and actions regarding transforming spaces within your school/classroom to encourage student voice, agency, engagement?
Physical Innovative Spaces
Innovative Classroom Spaces
Take a look into an innovative classroom space. What do you notice about:
One way of looking at the school is to think about the whole building as a learning environment. Innovative public spaces take advanatage of under utilized space by making every place a place of learning. Think about how the space can be used in a creative and innovative way. Using the risers of stairs, the glass on entry ways, having common areas for collaboration are all some strategies that schools in Ontario are using.