Project Insights: The Innovative Learning Environments and Student Experience Scoping Study
For several years, Learning Environments Australasia has contributed to research into the effectiveness and impact of school space design.
Notable amongst this contribution was its support and active participation in the four-year Australian Research Council Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC) project (http://www.iletc.com.au), completed in December 2020. Run by the LEaRN group at the University of Melbourne, and in collaboration with 17 industry partners, it produced a range of findings that claimed, amongst many things, that:
- ILEs outperform traditional classroom designs in terms of desired learning and teaching characteristics.
- Teachers are proving adept at using ILEs; and
- There is a causal relationship between ILEs, student deep learning and measures of quality teaching. (http://www.iletc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/ILETC-Preliminary-Findings-4-Nov.pdf).
These findings support decades of ILE development direction coming through OECD and other large initiatives, research findings from academic studies in many countries, and applied ILE strategies within departments of education and leading schools in many centres.
It is logical to assume therefore that these efforts by now culminate in a clear research agenda that supports the development and use of ILEs internationally. Such findings, by now, should be building on other findings to create a pyramid of knowledge, providing a clear rationale for the design, use and evaluation of the impact of such spaces.
However, that may not be the case. While significant and high-quality work has been produced, of which we would categorise ILETC, the wider body of work can be argued to be
- Regional in its influence;
- (Despite LEA and other industry support) lacking a full cross-sector voice;
- Lacking coordination - frequently duplicating key aspects of research done elsewhere; and
- Tending to lack approaches that provide demonstrably empirical outcomes.
The pressing issue is how to maximise past and current quality work to drive the next generation of ILE research?
Associated with this is how to do so internationally and how to decide the priorities - what are the most pressing needs from such research? ILE+SE attempts to address this range of issues. In this COVID era, it is using on-line methods, to draw together more than 200 industry, education and academic (the ‘sectors’) ILE leaders into 21 teams across 19 countries, to address the question:
Where has existing international ILE research led us, what is the critical research that now must be done, and how should such research be designed?
Through participating in ILE+SE, LEA is part of the most adventurous cross-sector, international ILE research project yet undertaken. It recognizes the unique perspectives the sectors bring to this problem, and how international input can create a convincing mandate for effectively targeted research that contributes needed knowledge for each sector. The project has three key outputs; (1) a white paper that summarizes this unique and highly informed group’s assessment of what is the priority research agenda, that builds to (2) grant applications with the potential to move this acquired knowledge into a long-term large-scale international research projects. (3) Importantly, it also builds an unparalleled network of ILE research, education policy and practice, and industry personnel.
Find out more: http://ilesescopingstudy.com.au