A4LE Webinar Recap: Reinventions
In the sixth and final installment in our webinar series cohosted with the Association for Learning Environments, we looked at reimagining learning from a micro to macro level. Our moderator Brooke Stafford-Brizard, director of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, framed the conversation through an approach called comprehensive student development to support individuals through holistic and impactful ways. Those universal areas of support include academic development, cognitive development, physical health, mental health, social emotional development, and identity development.
Unique Population Needs in One Place
With that framing, DLR Group Principal Taryn Kinney explained the process Austin Independent School District adopted to complete its recent educational specifications and master plan project. District leaders recognized the need to develop a plan for all learners and to address student population variations across the community, from declining to stable and high growth areas. The three main goals identified through the process include design for wellness, design for flexible learning, and design for community integration. The resulting outcomes are a departure from the district’s prescriptive approach of focusing on deferred maintenance, rather they meet the unique needs of all learners.
Neighborhood Learning for Social Development
For the Department of Defense Education Activity, managing facilities takes on a unique variety of challenges: locations all over the world, elongated design and construction timelines, and student populations accustomed to frequent relocation due to their upbringing in the military community. DoDEA Military Construction Program Manager Melody Wills shared that in 2010, two-thirds of DoDEA schools were in poor or failing condition. Beginning with a new educational specification in 2011, the department took an approach of incremental change seeking to implement projects in-process to the new standards through a transitional framework. All subsequent projects are designed with a kit-of-parts approach. In addition to highlighting the unique features of each culture and community, the teaching environment inside each school is broken into smaller neighborhoods which allow students to easily bond.
Celebrating Place Through Design
DLR Group is partnering with the Virgin Islands Department of Education to develop a new comprehensive master plan intended to shape a robust district reinvention in St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. With immediate needs stemming from past hurricanes Irma and Maria, VIDE is seeking to maximize FEMA funding by consolidating campuses and provide resilient, community-centric educational facilities.
“We had robust conversations with the community and people expressed a range of views. The general desire was to have the buildings have a sense of place,” said VIDE New Schools Architect Chaneele Callwood-Daniels. “They didn’t want the schools to look like they could be anywhere. The three islands have different historical characters [and] the schools need to reflect that. On the other end of the spectrum we have people who think that they should not be a recreation of history and speak to the time we’re in now.”
The planning process gave the district an opportunity to tailor the learning environment to meet the needs of the students for curriculum and learning communities to be formed. “For the past 10 years we’ve been talking about collaborative learning spaces, but we really didn’t have a design that allowed teachers to have that collaboration,” said VIDE Chief Operations Officer Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington. “They may have conversations one-on-one, but opening up spaces for students to learn and co-mingle with each other wasn’t afforded through the current designs of our campuses. So now we’re able to create learning pods and we’re able to foster the collaboration that we want to see that incorporate the different aspects of each island into the learning.”
Find a recap of our past webinars in partnership with A4LE: