Twenty-first-century learning spaces are designed to enable students to develop the skills and dispositions required for uncertain and transformed futures. They are characterized by flexibility and openness, with architectural and technological features that allow for variable arrangements and digitally enhanced learning. Flexibility is achieved through the provision of features such as sliding doors, moveable furniture, open spaces, and smaller breakout rooms, which may be used by teachers and students in different ways. The flexibility and openness of these spaces are considered to enhance the collaborative, self-directed and inquiry- or project-based learning that are regarded as crucial for an education that prepares students for work and citizenship in the 21st century. The integration of networked digital tools and applications is a key aspect of 21st-century learning spaces and of the pedagogical changes that shape and are shaped by these spaces. Sociomaterial theoretical perspectives offer a way of interpreting and analyzing 21st-century learning spaces in relation to pedagogical change. The flexibility of these spaces is implicated in the flexibility of pedagogical approaches, and the opportunities for movement and varied arrangements in physical and digital spaces are correspondent with the self-managing, digitally literate learner. Links between learning spaces that are flexible, open, and digitally networked and the pedagogies enacted in those spaces have been the subject of empirical studies in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Scandinavia, the United States, and New Zealand. These studies illustrate the importance of considering theoretical perspectives in research that investigates pedagogical change and learning space design.
Twenty-First-Century Learning Spaces and Pedagogical Change
Differentiated Instruction and Inclusive Schooling
Differentiated instruction encompasses a wide range of responsive pedagogies, including individualized types and levels of curricula, teaching methods, materials, and assessment strategies. It has at its roots the impetus for effective inclusive schooling, providing supports directly within general education classrooms for students with the full range of exceptionalities (both significant disabilities and giftedness) and other diverse educational characteristics such as cultural and linguistic background and socioeconomic status. To effectively include students with higher levels of need, comparable levels of supports follow the student from the special education setting to the general education classroom. This enriched level of support in the general education classroom benefits not only students with disabilities, but the class as a whole. The legal and ethical bases for inclusive schooling are connected with various civil rights movements (including race, disability, culture and language, gender); it can be viewed as a response to segregated schooling (and denial of schooling altogether). Schools frequently remove students when traditional educational programs fail, adding on separate programs rather than rectifying the existing system. Such special programs have been routinely promulgated without substantial evidence of their effectiveness over supportive general education classrooms (either for segregated students or for their unlabeled general education peers). Important aspects of differentiated instruction and inclusive schooling include multilevel instruction; authentic and culturally responsive curricula, methods, and assessment; universal design for learning; assistive and instructional technologies; positive behavioral supports; and a collaborative team approach to instructional decision-making and delivery. Differentiated instruction and effective inclusive schooling are vital for equitable access to educational opportunities, bringing more responsive curricula, methods, and perspectives to increasingly diverse classrooms and schools.