As it happened – Transitions Australasia
Transitions 2017 research symposium, held at The University of Melbourne last Friday (2nd June) featured 12 presentations from emerging researchers in learning environments from across the world to an audience of over 100 teachers, principals, architects and researchers from Australia and New Zealand. The full program is available here and twitter moments here.
Renowned designer, Mary Featherston opened the day with reflections on her experiences in the children’s museum and school design to articulate a deep understanding of children and their desires and needs in learning. She highlighted the rich legacy on which we can draw and the fundamental connection between educational philosophy and practice with designed form. Mary drew on her significant experience to highlight strengths and deficiencies in our current practice. In particular, she clearly argued a need for a systemic educational change to match the design advancements made over many years.
The day was divided into 4 themed sessions of Inhabiting Design, Teaching Practices, Change and Risk, and Measuring Impact. Each session was facilitated by an ‘interlocutor’ – Prof. Craig Deed (La Trobe University), Richard Leonard (Director,Hayball), Steven Cook (Principal, Albert Park College) and Laureate Prof. John Hattie (University of Melbourne).
Richard Leonard highlighted the importance of research in identifying what works in terms matching space and pedagogies. He reflected on the first findings of the ILETC project, that classrooms are predominantly traditional and the importance of raising teachers’ awareness of the affordances offered by all types of classrooms. Craig Deed noted the challenges teachers’ face in using the outcomes of design and framed this as: understanding the interaction of the authority of the teacher vs the authority of the teaching space in supporting student learning. Steven Cook identified the key challenge of supporting teachers to adapt their practice and feel comfortable in innovative learning environments.
John Hattie commented on how often discussion of impact arises in conversations about innovative learning environments and that it is principals, teachers’ and students’ views on what this impact is that is most important. He also referred to his often-cited study, Visible Learning, where learning spaces appear at the bottom of the table saying:
‘people thought you do all the stuff at the top (of the table) and ignore the things at the bottom, and one of the things at the bottom is learning environments – (that) it’s hardly had an impact. But the message is not that; the message is what an incredible missed opportunity’
Prof. Tom Kvan provided concluding remarks that drew together the many threads of the day from presentations and discussion.
‘this is a thread I trace through the day, a culture of conversation, of reflection, of action, of tolerance and support, whether in addressing risk, in planning delivery, in articulating goals. Cultural change can be revolutionary or evolutionary.’
We will be producing a full proceedings including papers from each presenter and transcription of interlocutors commentaries. Video will be available of most talks on our website in the coming weeks, along with presentation slides.
The event is the first in a series of 3 international symposia to be organised by the ILETC project this year, with a further two (with individual programs) in September in London and Grand Rapids, USA.
Tell us what you thought in our participant feedback survey.
Save the date: Transitions 2018, Friday 1st June. University of Melbourne.