The Futurelab Learning Spaces conference was opened by Lord David Puttnam. He is passionately involved with education and his work includes being the new chancellor of the Open University as well as representing Unicef. In his opening talk he aimed to focus on the Building Schools for the Future programme in England.
To begin with he sensitively framed the discussion within a global context that he has seen through his work with Unicef. Millions of children, he pointed out, will not have the benefit/luxury of ‘new learning spaces’ and ‘new technologies’ due to the catastrophic learning conditions they may find themselves in. fact that sometimes in classes of 50 and above they may be lucky to have access to a blackboard! A timely reminder, if ever it was needed, of how fortunate we are in the west…
Lord Puttnam did not enjoy his time at school when he was a lad it seems. He argued that one of the main reasons for this was the actual physical experience of learning in buildings that he likened to Victorian workhouses.
If every Secondary school in Englandis to be rebuilt or refurbished over the next 10 to 15 years (with a budget of £45 billion and 4.5 billion of that on IT) he wants the designers of these buildings and the educators who will inform and establish appropriate pedagogies to consider:
- How will our educational vision help to shape and refine the design of new school buildings?
- How will the nature of the relationship between digital natives and digital immigrants impact on how learners get access to information.
- Learners intimately connected to technology nowadays.
- How can we redefine the learning relationship between teachers and pupils?The development of online communities through games and web2.0 applications and how these can be facilitated within and outwith formal learning spaces.
- How can we connect the wlorld of education within schools with world of learning outside school?
- Should these learning spaces not have more impact on local communities: open at nights and at weekends for example?
In the question session at the end he was asked if the governments mantra of education, education, education still stood. He replied that he was just as convinced now, if not even more convinced of the governments focus on the importance of getting education sysytem and infrastructure that would help keep the UK at the forefront of a successful knowledge economy.