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Spotlight Report 1: Responsible Innovation- Designing Schools for tomorrow's learners

Each report in the Education Futures Spotlight Series will focus on a significant issue in education. It will bring you up to date on the latest thinking and offer expert analysis and recommendations for future actions. Our first report is on innovative learning environments.

In response to global policy initiatives focused on school environments that support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills, education systems in many countries are investing in the innovative design and construction of schools to facilitate new ways of teaching and learning. In Australia, state governments are committing billions of dollars towards building hundreds of new schools and upgrading many more existing ones.

There is now a growing body of research that focuses on the complex relationships between physical spaces, educational practices and learning. Despite widespread agreement that innovative learning environments can support better learning outcomes and increased well-being for staff and students, newly designed schools do not always realise these desired outcomes.

This paper draws on empirical findings from recent international research that includes the perspectives and the experiences of those who design and use these learning environments. We apply the four dimensions of a Responsible Innovation Framework developed by Stilgoe, Owen and Macnaghten – anticipation, reflexivity, inclusion and responsiveness – to gain a more specific understanding of what Responsible Innovation in school design might involve and identify what might help to guide future innovation.

Our analysis shows that embedding professional learning, evidence and participatory practices in the innovation processes are important for engaging users in the design and can support successful transition and occupancy of innovative environments in schools. Flexibility and school autonomy are key for adapting designs for occupation and for sustainability in diverse contexts. Our analysis also confirms the importance of transparent values-based decision frameworks for aligning education agendas with school designs and educational practices. Most importantly, it is clear that the effectiveness of innovative learning environments depends on effective leadership. Leaders who are committed to creating effective and equitable school environments must continually refine and improve practices, building professional capacity in their team and improving their own leadership capabilities.

It is hoped that engaging in Responsible Innovation will result in school learning environments that are well-designed, well used and sustainable.

Download the full report: Responsible Innovation: Designing Schools for Tomorrow’s Learners

Download the research brief: Responsible Innovation – in brief

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Spotlight Report 1: Responsible Innovation- Designing Schools for tomorrow's learners

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