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
Moral Education and Technology
Paul Farber and Dini Metro-Roland
Moral education and technology seem to represent two fundamentally different kinds of concern and domains of inquiry. But these domains are fused in educational practice. Teaching as a fundamental human endeavor and form of activity has been a central component of human cultural evolution and regeneration from the earliest human social groupings. As a distinctive form of activity, teaching braids together ethical and instrumental norms and values. The modern, global institution of schooling has added layers of institutional support, constraint, and governance on the teaching it structures as well as increased scrutiny of the ethical and instrumental values in play; schooling is in effect a kind of moral technology for advancing certain norms and values in an efficient way. At present, technological developments with modern society make possible new forms of teaching and learning that likewise warrant scrutiny as they impact the ethical and instrumental ends of teaching and instructional practices today.
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.
Educational Experience and the Neglected Landscapes of Possibility
Evidence-based orientations have come to prevail among educational policymakers internationally in the early decades of the 21st century. These orientations are associated with two dramatic developments: first, the emergence of new common patterns in educational reform internationally; and second, the global rise of randomized control tests in educational research and the parallel rise of large-scale educational testing and evaluations. Because of the restricted way that evidence is conceived in these orientations they tend to neglect what is most important in educational endeavors. Such orientations largely obscure educational experience, not deliberately, yet almost as a matter of course. Educational experience tends to be recast as an arena for generating outcomes that can be indexed and ranked for purposes of evaluation of performance, nationally and internationally. Data that can be furnished in indexible form thus attains a new importance, both for educational policymaking and educational research. The consequences of these ongoing developments for how teaching is conceived and practiced are quite incapacitating but not adequately acknowledged. Equally unperceived are the debilitating consequences for educational research itself, in particular research that is related to policymaking. Illuminating the neglected landscape of educational experience thus becomes a pressing task, as does disclosing the possibilities that are most integral to it. This task involves undertaking a decisive reclamation of those possibilities, paying close attention to four key domains of relationships that define educational practice, when adequately conceived. A key distinction between having and being informs this reclamation and enables educational research itself to be regenerated.