Educational researchers at The University of Melbourne are using funding from the ARC Linkage Projects scheme to drive improvements in student learning that are made possible through innovations in school architecture, and the new ways of teaching they enable.

In contrast to traditional classrooms, innovative learning environments blend flexible design and practice so that teaching can best match the learning tasks at hand. The University of Melbourne team is developing tools to help teachers make full use of the educational potential of these new classrooms.

The project leader is Associate Professor Wesley Imms of the Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) group, a cross-disciplinary industry and academic collaboration. To work on the complex problem of accommodating the new learning approaches required by 21st century schooling, Associate Professor Imms has brought together fifteen partner organisations spanning education, architecture, museum education, information technology, acoustical engineering and furniture design.

The Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change project has taken an open approach to disseminating research data with end users, and translating their findings into practical resources for schools.

The research team is building a multi-faceted resource ‘toolbox’ to build teachers spatial competence in teaching and learning activities. This contains knowledge tools, strategy tools, evaluation tools, and professional development tools.

Image: Harbord Primary School class room
Image credit: Harbord Primary School and NSW Department of Education