A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to present a topic that I’m really passionate about at two conferences. What began as a thought leadership exploration a couple of years ago about how learning spaces can better adapt to the multitudes of pedagogies and learning methods being used today has led to white papers, articles and multiple speaking engagements focused on a new learning environment I’ve written about here called the Immersive LearningScape.
In January, I was invited to share some of these ideas at the Innovate 2013 conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The conference, themed this year “Re-Imagining School”, was aimed at engaging in a dialogue to ignite new ideas resulting in a better education for American Schools abroad. There was a concentrated focus on cross-disciplinary learning and an extremely high quality of ideas and focus on leading edge educational theories. It was eye-opening to see how eager Brazil is to invest in education in a very big way. Understanding the enormous spotlight Brazil will be under over the next 3 years (both the 2014 Soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics will be held there), the country has zeroed in to education as one of the keystones of the Brazilian development project. They understand the critical investment that they must make in education in order to effectively elevate the role of Brazil in a competitive world. The critical thing they’ve done is take a large percentage of profits from oil and energy companies and dedicated them to education (read more about that here).
As part of that process, energy companies have set up non-profit organizations such as Porvir to bring in innovation in education from around the world to Brazil through research, journalism, and investigation of learning pedagogies and different learning methods from around the world. I was able to learn more about this organization and its mission when they interviewed me about the Immersive LearningScape.
What was most surprising (and inspiring) to me about the Innovate Conference was the opportunity to be the only architect at a conference comprised mostly of educators, futurists and thought leaders. It was eye-opening to see how eager Brazil is to invest in education in a very big way.
Most recently, I traveled down to Florida for the Learning Environments 2013 conference in Orlando. I co-presented with John Dougherty and Paige Dettman from Sarasota Public Schools. I originally met John when he was with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and I was presenting some of my exploration into 21st century learning and the spaces that support it. Since he’s been with Sarasota Public Schools, he and Paige have been implementing some of these ideas quite successfully. We presented their case study as part of the Immersive LearningScape presentation. What was most striking about this conference was the show room (the conference was co-jointly organized with the FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference).
The showroom highlighted hundreds of booths of technology companies that are involved in education, but most importantly, it highlighted the tremendous change that is coming to education over the next few years. One-to-one tools, Touchtone screens, share technologies, collaborative software, student management systems, real-time assessment tools, adaptive instruction software, classroom management systems, and countless other technologies will transform the learning process the way we know it.
The change in the process of learning through these new technologies demands a reinvented approach to the design of our learning environments. One that supports an asynchronous, student-driven, interdisciplinary, technology-enhanced, active and engaging process: Enter the Immersive Learningscape.