Innovative Learning Environments

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How to design a powerful learning environment so that learners can thrive in the 21st century? OECD’s Innovative Learning Environments (ILE) is an ambitious international study that responds to this challenging question. The study earlier released the influential publication The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice. This companion volume is based on 40 in-depth case studies of powerful 21st century learning environments that have taken the innovation journey.

Innovative Learning Environments presents a wealth of international material and features a new framework for understanding these learning environments, organised into eight chapters. Richly illustrated by the many local examples, it argues that a contemporary learning environment should:

  • Innovate the elements and dynamics of its “pedagogical core”.
  • Become a “formative organisation” through strong design strategies with corresponding learning leadership, evaluation and feedback.
  • Open up to partnerships to grow social and professional capital, and to sustain renewal and dynamism.
  • Promote 21st century effectiveness through the application of the ILE learning principles.

In conclusion it offers pointers to how this can be achieved, including the role of technology, networking, and changing organisational cultures. This report will prove to be an invaluable resource for all those interested in schooling. It will be of particular interest to teachers, education leaders, parents, teacher educators, advisors and decision-makers, as well as the research community.

“Much has been written about learning environments, and about innovation but nowhere will you find such a deep and cogent portrayal of the key principles as in the OECD's report, Innovative Learning Environments. Learners, pedagogical core, learning environments, partnerships, sustainability - it's all captured in this remarkable volume.”

(Michael Fullan, OC, Professor Emeritus, OISE, University of Toronto)

“Everyone in education is talking about innovation. What is different here is that the best of what we know about learning is at the centre and is richly illustrated with real cases to answer the question, ‘What will this look like?’”

(Helen Timperley, Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Auckland)

“From OECD's The Nature of Learning to Innovative Learning Environments, this second ILE volume inspires and guides all who are committed to creating , enacting and sustaining powerful learning. To know that this is possible - that we can and are creating ‘schooling for tomorrow’ today - is the gift of this book.”

(Anthony Mackay: Co-Chair, Global Education Leaders Program; Chair, Innovation Unit UK)

“What impresses me about this work is the clarity about the links between complex goals, processes and outcomes through a focus on innovative learning environments across the globe. Innovative Learning Environments manages both to bring alive the lived realities of very different people at the same time as distilling principles and key messages."

(Philippa Cordingley, Chief Executive, Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE), UK)

“As societies experience unprecedented and unpredictable change, schools and education systems are at the nexus of hope for the future. OECD’s report Innovative Learning Environments documents how educators in a number of countries are engaging in bold and forward-thinking innovations to renew, re-imagine and re-invent contexts for teaching and learning, and, most importantly, provides inspiration to take the journey.”

(Professor Lorna Earl, President 2011-2013, International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement)

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Creating and sustaining innovative learning

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

This chapter brings the different dimensions and insights about innovative learning environments together. It focuses on three components or layers – the “pedagogical core”, the “ formative cycle” within the organisation, and partnerships – as well as how the learning principles should be at the centre and permeate throughout. These provide the characteristics towards which contemporary innovative learning environments should aspire. The chapter looks at how some of the traditional fundamentals of schooling are being rethought in the innovations: the constraints of proximity and distance and the balance of the social and the individual. It revisits the four “pumps” of innovation of earlier OECD work as well as identified barriers to innovation. These give the key factors on which to focus in growing and sustaining innovative learning environments: evaluation and evidence, technology, organisational change, and system building and transformation.

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