Learning Spaces – Recycling Schools and Community Learning Centres (Futurelab Research Discussion Day – 20th March)

Schools as we know them are past their sell by date as more and more people begin to recognise. If we have to build institutional learning spaces with BSF then surely recycling schools into community learning centres is a more sensible bet? (Well done Knowsley LA for moving towards this direction). It’s hardly a new idea but it provides a clear foundation for future transformations such as making them invitational, all-age and freeing them from enforced curricula.

Every community deserves access to a hub(s) (physical and virtual) with high quality learning and cultural environments, with flexible, adaptable spaces and places for multi-media publishing, performance, presentations, child-care, socialising, play, sport and recreation. This goes beyond extended schools and challenges design to embrace 24/7/365 commitment to learners, families and communities.

Community learning centres might well be distributed into smaller parts across communities. The proposed Minnesota Experimental City (MXC) initiated as long ago as 1967 was planned as a laboratory for social, technical and environmental innovation. Schools were to be replaced by a variety of learning centres: early life studios, stimulus studios, gaming studios, project studios, learner banks, family life centres and community facilities. Futurelab’s Opening Education document ‘What if… Re-imagining Learning Spaces includes other future-based scenarios like schools being part of learning satellites or hubs or zoned workflow spaces connected to local communities. It also explores how technologies can support and create various types of learning landscapes.

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