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it photo 10584.jpg 300x183Two different annual conferences, in two different parts of the country took place this month. EdSpaces and LearningScapes. While the individual course content of these conferences can be somewhat dissimilar, they both have a very similar focus: the learning environment as an ecosystem. This broad subject matter includes a variety of topics from space planning and furniture to educational technologies.

I attended LearningScapes this year and was impressed with the expert sessions. I was particularly interested in a small break-out that highlighted junior high school students from across the country as they presented their own perception of the “Schools of the Future.” Each of the three diverse teams had one common theme, the need to bring nature into the learning environment for hands on and “real-life” experiences that offer the opportunity to engage in learning practically rather than theoretically. Bringing the classroom outside or the natural environment inside offers unique challenges. How, then, as technologists, do we complement and supplement natural and hands on learning? This will be an evolving discussion [likely necessitating the inclusion a variety of manufacturers from different markets who will help to create innovative solutions.] VR/AR and adequate power may be a start. I will table this interesting challenge for another blog…

BUT- looking at the now- much of what makes technology enhanced educational spaces work has to do with space planning, furniture choices, equipment placement (and of course, curriculum development). Compounding the stress on designers, installers and managers to “get it right” is the now common demand for flex-spaces; rooms that are effectively multi-purpose.

You’d think the AV and IT departments would have, at the very least, a good working relationship with interiors and facilities departments. Alas, that doesn’t always seem to be the case.  So often I hear, “They [insert any department here] make my life so difficult.” Or, “why can’t they just bring us into the conversation sooner.” And my personal favorite, “If I see them coming I hide, if they can’t find me, they can’t yell at me for my cables.” HA!

So I guess my question is, do you have a good working relationship with your interiors and facilities people? If so, how did that evolve? If not, where does it go wrong? We are truly interested in this dynamic for more than FSR just “living in” both the AV and facilities worlds. Give us your insight, below.

PS- I did not attend EdSpaces this year (the two conferences overlapped). But Dan Case from Carroll College did and presented some ways his college has developed an engaging and highly effective learning environment through a cycle of trial, training, feedback, and modification. Read the research behind their choices and a summary of the results here.

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