Innovative learning environments
ILEs comprise both the physical environment of the learning space and the pedagogies, roles and activities within it.
An innovative learning environment (ILE) refers to the organic whole of the way that learning is organised for a group of learners in a given context and at a given time, that is, all the aspects of a school environment that influence learning. It indicates pedagogical and psychosocial components as well as the particular spatial design, and refers to physical context as well as its materials and tools, social roles, pedagogies, learning goals and activities. Innovative learning environments (ILEs) are not to be confused with the open-plan environments in vogue in the 1970s and 1980s. This is because open plan classroom designs are not necessarily adaptable to meet students’ learning needs, and in fact may constrain potential for learning and teaching.
Innovative learning environments have received a lot of attention in New Zealand, with the term often conflated with the Government’s move to encourage schools to develop open plan classrooms or learning hubs. While the term ILE is variably defined, it is generally believed to be associated with a range of physical, organisational and pedagogical features.
Although it is theorised that ILEs can contribute to raising achievement because they can more readily support the needs of learners, there is little information on the nature or strength of the relationship between the quality of school facilities and educational outcomes. However, ILEs have been implicated in a range of outcomes including an increase in the range of active, student-centred, personalised and collaborative learning experiences and increased engagement. Assessing the impact of ILE designs is hindered by the multi-faceted nature of learning environments and the variety of teaching and learning programmes implemented within them. With many interacting and intervening variables it is difficult for research to isolate the impact of particular individual features.
There is no one approach to teaching and learning in an ILE. However, there are particular principles of learning that typically underpin an ILE philosophy. These include: making learning social and collaborative, giving students greater ownership over their learning, personalising learning, assessments that focus on competencies rather than content knowledge and encouraging horizontal connectedness across learning activities.
- How am I utilising the physical space of my classroom to support student learning?
- How do I understand the learning process, what is the evidence to support this, and how does this shape my teaching?
- How am I supporting my students to become more agentic?
"Your work is valuable and education is lucky to have your insight, knowledge and courage to try something new. I have found the research that you put up on The Education Hub very interesting. It is generating a lot of discussion and thought in our staffroom."