September 2011: Conference to focus on learning environments in Hungary

Good practices in learning environments and school infrastructure will be presented at a September 2011 conference in Budapest.

by CEC member Monika Reti, Edit Lippai

Educating Spaces is a project about learning environments and school infrastructure. It is a project hosted by the Hungarian Institute for Educational Research and Development, a governmental institute supported by European Union funds within the programme "21st century public education". We call all learning environments "Educating Spaces" that foster the formation of learning organisations and serve their users with a meaningful knowledge building experience while contributing to the process of embedding the institute into the texture of the city and network of the local communities.

In our project we have been seeking for existing elements of good practice in architectural and landscape design and space arrangement as well as pedagogical initiatives with space use supporting quality education in public schools in Hungary.

  • At our conference “Educating Spaces: Infrastructure of Educational Buildings: Sustainability and other quality criteria” on 30 September 2011 in Budapest, we will present some research results as well as some good practices from Hungary.

On the one hand, we aim to address three dimensions of sustainability (economy, technology and society) – on the other hand we established a 3-dimensional framework though collaboration with members of various stakeholders groups.

  • One dimension of sustainability includes a set of 9 quality criteria, which we described based on content analysis from literature on quality criteria of educational buildings.
  • The second dimension consists of 5 strands of learning environments: we examined didactical, physical, technical, social and local aspects of each criteria.
  • Last but not least, as a third dimension, sustainability should be regarded as a guideline for providing quality learning environments in schools.

To meet expectations of present and future challenges brought about rapidly changing world schools must renew their concepts of learning: in infrastructural development indirect effects and nonformal learning should be taken into account. Future-leading learning environments are inclusive and offer opportunities for educating for sustainability while being sustainable themselves. To realize this concept a synthesis of knowledge from the fields of pedagogy, psychology, architecture and design as well as participatory planning (involving a cross-section of stakeholders) is needed if schools are still to fulfil their role in our societies. Knowledge management offers a tool for this process while the process of participation itself creates new ways of knowledge management as well.

We found that effective learning environments support forming learning networks – and learning organizations create efficient learning environments tailored to their specific needs.

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