May 9, 2013, by Charlie Jahnigen

21st Century Learning Environment Jargon

The 21st Century Learning Environment topic has been discussed and debated in many circles (education/design/technology/politics/etc). As designers adapt to this new model of teaching, I have spent some time reading various publications on the topic. Below is a compilation of frequently used phrases I have seen that are tied to the built environment:

• Collaboration / Creativity / Community / Curiosity
• Intelligent Buildings that Focus on Safety, Security, Technology and Energy Efficiency to Maximize Learning
• Critical Thinking
• Net Zero Facilities
• Learning Studio
• Inspiring Spaces & Culture
• Experiential Learning
• Exploratory Learning
• Inquisitiveness
• Flexibility for Change
• Interactive Learning Environment
• Digital Literacy
• Problem Solving
• Learning From the Past
• Borderless Learning
• Teamwork
• Hands on Learning
• Intellectual Risks
• Everyone is a Learner & Teacher
• Learning for Life
• Modern Learning Using Modern Tools
• Leaders
• Personal Independence
• Systems-Thinking

What words come to mind when you think of 21st Century Learning? How can designers integrate these thoughts into the built form? What words or phrases above result in the greatest change from what we have seen over the past 10 years of educational design?

So what’s my point? When talking about education design, we are used to the basics of science, literature, math, chemistry, physical education, art, etc. We now need to embrace the new models of education in America. I am currently involved in a variety of education design solutions throughout the Midwest. Some are small renovations and others are new buildings on undeveloped sites. As an architect and influencer of the built environment I need to be aware of the future of education in America, and need to continually challenge my clients and stakeholders to think about how students learn now, tomorrow and in 20+ years.