Conference Themes Print Page

Over the past 50 years, in an effort to better prepare society for the challenges to come, educators have been creating visions for a new pedagogy and corresponding new forms of educational facilities.

But visions are not enough. As Alan Kay once observed, "the best way to predict the future is to invent it", a process that includes experimentation and learning from drawbacks in opposition to a fixed vision of what the future has to look like and then trying to get there by any means. Invention needs both: visionary thinking and the creative pragmatism of problem-solving under conditions uncertain and ill-defined. Our conference will offer a vibrant field of opinions and discussions for the inventors of the schools (and no longer "the" school) of the future.

* Designing and furnishing future learning environments.
As governments and school leaders decide how to best manage their resources to optimise the quality of their schools, classrooms and equipment, some school leaders and designers are questioning the use of and need for traditional, indeed any, learning spaces and furniture. Factors such as use of wireless technologies, research into ergonomics, concerns about obesity are challenging traditional design of educational equipment. Likewise, a school's commitment to changing how education services are delivered can transform traditional configurations of educational spaces. Presentations in this theme will explore visionary design in education. Case studies will feature radical examples of existing schools, classrooms and equipment, which could provide the prototypes for the learning environments of tomorrow.

* Educational spaces meeting educational needs of future learners.
The school is an essential component of a diverse and complex knowledge economy, and it must respond to its changing needs and demands. But how can a school constructed today most effectively serve the needs of learners in 50 years time? In some countries, the increasing role of the school as one of a range of community services and initiatives encouraging learners to create and re-create their own learning environments are providing new opportunities for designers, educators and communities to work together to create inspirational spaces for learning.Presentations in this theme will explore how these groups can work together most effectively to challenge existing paradigms of education delivery.

* Technologies for future learning environments.
Information technologies hold the promise of transforming every aspect of our lives. Using these technologies effectively is not without its frustrations, and while there are some success stories regarding the provision of ICTs in educational contexts, school systems must work hard to compensate for differences in access to computers, mobile phones and internet outside the school. If we want to efficiently harness technologies to improve educational outcomes, policymakers need to start transforming dreams of a wireless, seamless connected world into a reality at the school and community levels. Presentations in this theme will seek to assess existing constraints to integration of technologies in schools and propose some radical visions and solutions that might transform the visions of a World without Schools or School without Walls into a reality.

* Financing and procurement strategies of the future.
In many countries, governments are relying increasingly on partnerships with the private sector to design, build, finance, operate and maintain schools. Given that these procurement models have met with mixed success, what is a viable procurement route for educational facilities of the future? Given decreasing capital funding budgets in many countries, do governments have a choice? To take a radical view, what is the future of procurement if schools no longer exist or have been integrated into homes or virtual communities? Presentations in this theme will reflect upon existing procurement models and speculate on the types of models that might exist in the future.

Speakers will include visionaries and change agents, policy makers, architects and planners. Visits to educational facilities in the Vienna area will take place on the third day of the conference. The workshops will be held in parallel in an "open-space" environment.

Workshop Themes

Each workshop will explore a specific aspect of educational facilities and its potential to contribute to radical visions for tomorrow's schools.As a reality check for these visions each workshop includes a presentation of an actual project by its planners, which then serves as the basis for a "gedankenexperiment" for going from good to radical.

The workshop themes, which may be modified on day one of the conference together with the participants, will include:

* WS01 Breaking Down the Walls (schools without classrooms)
* WS02 Thinking Green (energy questions, low energy buildings)
* WS03 Micro Environments (small interventions, flexible learning spaces)
* WS04 Building for Change (adaptability in a changing world)
* WS05 Community Connection (schools as part of a greater network)
* WS06 Designing (for) Diversity (organising school spaces for heterogenous groups)
* WS07 Outdoor Learning (exterior spaces for learning)
* WS08 Burning Down the School (fire regulations, safety, security )
* WS09 Value for Money (questions of funding, standards)
* WS10 Expanding Virtually (IT support for learning)