I am working in the UK in a county area known as Worcestershire as the adviser to schools in my area. We have around 240 schools from Nursery to High schools and I am interested in how we modify or plan for the sorts of learning spaces we may well need in the future.

A couple of orientation statement to give an idea of where I am coming from:

  • It is unlikely that we will see radical change in the design of the education system due to the interests that constrain change
  • In the UK we are in the process of replacing secondary schools throughout the country and in my area that dies not start until 2012/13 so I feel I need help to shape my thinking and that of others
  • Learning technologies are impacting on learners and so a less degree on teachers but what we need is a shift in curriculum and assessment - the link between curriculum and technology is a real issue for me

Any dialogue about these issues with perspectives from places other than the UK would be welcomed.

(from Christian Long)

Dave -- Being fairly familiar with the BSF programme -- pros/cons in reality/press -- I appreciate your questions. In some respects, because the Worcestershire area must wait until 2012/13, you are in a position to watch/learn from the results of the early high school transformations and architectural design solutions that hit the street. What strikes me as I type this now is that in another 5 or 6 years, the raw power of the digital landscape and processors/servers and the myriad of handheld and intuitive/multi-touch screen technologies that kids/teachers will have at their disposal will be so significant that it will be challenging to predict the best steps to take today in preparation.

That being said, I offer you the following resources:

1. Go to DesignShare.com when you have time to see the a wide range of innovative school architecture/design projects that have been created over the last decade. You asked for other perspectives outside the UK -- think you'll find many that will interest you at all age levels. Spans schools around the entire globe.
2. Take a look at Edutopia.org, the magazine/site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. Amazing 'stories' about transformation in every conceivable manner with schools of all ages -- although only in the US.
3. From the owners of DesignShare.com -- Randy Fielding/Prakash Nair, consider reading/buying The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools. You can find a copy at the web site or at Amazon. A wonderful resource that creates language that designers and educators and community members can use to frame exactly what they mean by 'learning' in the 'future'. Plus, it seems so intuitive to both sides of the table, no matter what their expertise is.

At the end of the day, there is something to be said for a community/school that puts the majority of their pre-planning efforts into clearly articulating their unique vision and then trying to figure out how to be successful once the go public (national standards, funding, partners, etc.)...rather than trying to find a case study to emulate.

Cheers to you! Contact me anytime if I can be of further help. Christian