While sat in front of my laptop at the beginning of May, slogging through a literature review, I was bemused to discover the Ministry’s MLE website renamed to ‘Innovative Learning Environments'. Most interesting was the justification that indicated the change was ‘consistent with both international usage and growing discomfort in New Zealand with the term MLE’ (New Zealand Ministry of Education, 2015).
As part of my Master’s thesis research, ‘Making the Shift — Perceptions and Challenges of Modern Learning Practice', I have been tracking the terminology associated with modern learning environments (MLE) and modern learning practice (MLP). Specifically, I’ve been exploring community-wide perceptions of the definition and purpose of MLP at a school knee-deep in the paradigm shift that is transforming many schools in Christchurch and throughout New Zealand.
Although I have yet to discover any sweeping empirical evidence, I am keenly aware of the perception of ‘growing discomfort’ with the term MLE. Multiple participants have indicated that ‘modern’ seems to them a misnomer and, in fact, the school in my study ditched ‘modern’ well before the Ministry — they now call their learning spaces Flexible and Responsive Environments for Deep Learning (FREDL). Admittedly a bit of a mouthful, but it certainly provides an element of precision that both ‘modern’ and ‘innovative’ are missing.
Learning research strongly suggests that an effective learning environment is one that: