The impact of innovative learning spaces

The educational sector worldwide, including higher education and K-12, faces tremendous challenges because of the changes caused by globalization and demographics as well as the increasing use of technology and digitization in all social sectors. Furthermore, in the 21st century, learners take the lead in their own learning. Learning is now ubiquitous. It can be formal, informal, or non-formal, and take place anywhere and at any time. Whoever we are and wherever we live, we are presented with opportunities to learn every day throughout our lives. As the Swedish (e.g) saying goes, humans learn throughout life, as human life is learning.


Learning and education have become possible for everyone through open access and free content, such as open educational resources (OER) and massive open online courses (MOOCs). The range, offers, and choices of learning are greater than ever before, requiring only access to the Internet, an electronic device, and digital literacy. More people are connected to the Internet than ever before, using digital devices and services at work, in daily life, and in both formal and informal environments. This access has been fueled by the rise of the mobile broadband, or wireless Internet access, which enables the participation of an increasing number of people in the global digital economy.


The era in which we live has been termed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We already are affected by the digital revolution, and we stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, this transformation will be unlike anything that humankind has experienced. We do not yet know how this transformation will unfold, but it is clear that our response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders in the global polity, including the public and private sectors, academia, and civil society.


UNESCO’s sustainability goals for education, particularly the SDG 4, are being implemented in Education 2030, which emphasizes the key elements of access, inclusiveness, lifelong learning, equity, equality, quality, and democracy. To achieve these goals, learning spaces must be rethought and optimized to enable learning for all. To be proactive in coping with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, achieving the SDG4, and meeting the needs of learners both in this era and in the future, traditional learning spaces must be redesigned. Learning spaces should work for everyone, and extended learning spaces must be created for active learning.


Active and authentic learning requires innovative learning spaces. The learning space, whether physical or virtual, is a key element. An effective learning space brings learners together by encouraging and facilitating their exploration, collaboration, and discussion. Learning spaces, which are increasingly merged and even blurred, must be suitable for both informal and formal learning. The discourses on re-thinking traditional learning spaces and aligning them with users’ expectations, as well as the joy of learning, are highly emphasized worldwide. The transformative shift to innovative learning spaces calls for innovative leadership and management in our digital age. Furthermore, leaders and managers must understand the consequences of digitization for not only the fostering of active global citizens but also the transformation of the working environment across the globe. Therefore, the Fourth Industrial Revolution must be recognized, embraced, embedded, and sustained worldwide.


During the workshop, How to Create Innovative Learning Spaces, the characteristics of innovative learning spaces, leadership, and the impact of innovative learning spaces on student motivation and outcomes will be elaborated and discussed.


If you can design the physical space, the social space, and the information space all together to enhance collaborative learning, then that whole milieu turns into a learning technology, and people just love working there, and they start learning with and from each other. – John Seely Brown


The main outcome of the workshop will be the participants’ ability to cultivate a culture of innovative learning spaces at micro, meso, and macro levels.


Written by Ebba Ossiannilsson


Ebba Ossiannilsson will be faciliating the Pre-Conference Workshop How to Create Innovative Learning Spaces on Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

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