Change Agents: “If you build it they [may not necessarily] come” The key is provision and empowerment #cefpioz14

There are two things you need to know about me:

1. I’m not at fond of Kevin Costner movies
2. I have never believed the rhetoric of “If you build it they will come”

“No such thing as best practice in education anymore, education is complex in the knowledge economy.” Prof Martin Westwall

Building something is just the start of providing the context, following close on the heals is empowering the people to step up and make it happen. The world of full of edifices, both real and metaphorical, where the people didn’t actually come.

Currently I am at the CEFPI Conference in Adelaide and we just heard from Professor Martin Westwell, Strategic Professor in the Science of Learning at Flinders University. Martin is an engaging and challenging speaker who debunked a lot of myths around what we think about learning.

For educators and architects, the primary audience of is conference, the concept of “provision and empowerment” connected both disciplines. Provision of flexible learning spaces needs to be transformed into empowerment through knowing how to use the space effectively. Providing the space alone is insufficient. We can provide spaces and learning contexts that look interesting and engaging, but how we empower the users is where the magic happens.

Professor Westwall showed PISA data about the effectiveness of types of learning commonly used in schools:
Hands on
Student-to-student interaction.

Interestingly, ‘student-to-student’ interaction showed the greater levels of learning retention, and ‘investigation’, the least (for Australian students). The most powerful student-to-student interaction occurred when students were working in pairs. Investigation was ineffective because teachers ‘left them to it’ and therein was the problem, provision but no empowerment.

Teachers and the students can be empowered through a strategic approach to ensure the provision of space, learning opportunities. We may even see improvement in learning through investigative activities when teachers change the way they work.

The new mantra is “provision and empowerment”

If you build it they will come, but only after great planning and execution.


One thought on “Change Agents: “If you build it they [may not necessarily] come” The key is provision and empowerment #cefpioz14

  1. Reblogged this on Innovation in Learning and commented:
    Thoroughly agree with this nice reflection from Anne at NBCS. They are a school where visitors are captivated by their learning spaces however it is the vision and planning from guys like Stephen Harris and Steve Colliss that resulted in what they have. Great spaces with staff who know how to use them to maximise the learning. We used some different furniture configurations a few years ago to complement the learning experiences that had grown from the implementation of our 1:1 program. Unfortunately we left it at that and did not continue to build on the momentum that had developed. Now we are stuck in a situation where I feel we are going backwards. Staff are comfortable with having technology in the classroom but there is little innovation happening. They can share docs through their Google Drive, they can get students to create a movie or explain something through Educreations but there is a real lack of direction around learning and what it should look like at our College.

    Staff need to be continually inspired and challenged not overwhelmed by a bombardment of ‘compliance’ requirements pushed down from above that serve little to improve what happens in the classroom. We will continue on the ‘race to nowhere’ while we get few opportunities to reflect on how we can be more effective educators in this complex world of education.

    How many of our schools have staff attending the EduTech Conference this week? I know a College not far from us sent seven staff as they seek to build a culture of innovation in learning. Money is always the issue but if we continue to believe ‘that teachers are best served by being in front of their classes’ we will never get any innovation happening!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: