Schools that have introduced Modern or Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) are striving to provide learning environments that are flexible. ILEs usually have flexible learning spaces that may include larger, open plan areas, along with smaller breakout and meeting style rooms. But, they are characterised by a pedagogical approach to teaching and learning that is much broader than just a change to physical spaces.
Innovative Learning Environments are places that are ‘open, flexible learning environments where inquiries are shared, interventions devised collaboratively, and reflections based on both self and peer observations’. (For more information see CORE’s white paper on Modern Learning Environments by Mark Osborne).
For those looking in from the outside, ILEs can sometimes look chaotic — they may not look like some more traditional classrooms with all the students working quietly at their desks.
Recently, I've had a number of conversations with parents who have said that ILEs won't work for their children. Some told me that their children need more structure and strong teacher-led learning. Others said that their child, given some choice about their own learning, would choose not to work hard. A few noted that their children would be lost, forgotten, or overwhelmed in larger open-plan-style learning spaces.
ILEs are not simply about giving learners choices; they aim to give learners agency. Agency involves choice, but also the power to act on choices, and accept the responsibility that comes with exercising that choice. (See CORE’s 2015 Trend – Learner Agency for more information).