Inside the ILETC Project with Fiona Young
28 Mar 2017
Learning Environments Australasia is a proud funding partner of the Innovative Learning Environments And Teacher Change (ILETC) Project.
Over the coming months, we’ll meet several LEA members who are key participants in the ILETC Project and find out more about their contributions to this vital research. In the spotlight first is Fiona Young from the NSW Chapter, an LEA member for the last 8 years.
Why are you passionate about innovation in learning environments?
I’m passionate about learning! – and being an architect, ‘learning environments’ are my outlet and contribution to how to support young and old people engage with learning in ways which reflect and relate to a contemporary world.
What is your role within the ILETC Project?
My role is as a PhD researcher. The role involves being part of collaborative research which includes a systematic review of the literature, contributing to survey design, co-writing papers, as well as independent research for my own PhD (which also contributes information and knowledge back to the project).
Why is the ILETC Project important to you?
I’ve been involved in the development of lots of great learning environment projects over the past decade, and whilst some of them might look good, and even from a design perspective be considered innovative, I’d found out later that they haven’t all necessarily fulfilled the pedagogical aspirations that they were designed for. For some time, I’ve been conscious of, and energized by the benefits of collaborating with educational specialists as part of the design process in order to help evolve thinking around learning and teaching in order to create innovative learning spaces.
Yet, I realised that unless teacher professional development around learning and teaching in innovative learning spaces wasn’t an ongoing process, that ILEs could still be seen to ‘not work’, particularly if pedagogy didn’t shift to suit the opportunities the new spaces offered.
So the ILETC project is important to me as I’d like to think that the research, and outcomes will be useful to support bridging the gap between the aspirations in creating innovative learning environments, the eventual use of them, and ultimately engaging students and their teachers in learning within these spaces.
What has been your favourite ILETC Project experience so far?
Getting together with the team and being part of the rich conversations that take place at our PhD workshops which happen four times a year.
What’s been the toughest?
• Having never done such a thing before, writing an initial literature paper review was a challenge, but rewarding after the fact
• Balancing independent PhD research, ILETC project research, my work as an architect at Hayball, and family life!
How does LEA’s funding of the ILETC Project help enhance and innovate learning spaces and experiences?
I think whilst most of us involved in LEA understand the context and drivers around the design of ILEs, what’s lacking is robust evidence about the impacts of such spaces on student outcomes – this would greatly support the work we do in creating these environments. As an organisation which shares knowledge, experiences and best practices around building great learning environments it’s critical for us to be part of, and supporting and disseminating leading research in this realm.
The ILETC Project will investigate how teachers can use the untapped potential of Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) to improve learning outcomes for students. It will identify whether there is a link between quality teaching and effective use of ILEs and develop practical tools to assist teachers to adapt their teaching practices to maximise deeper learning.
The research will be conducted in 3 stages across 4 years using exploratory and mixed method approaches, in order to establish whether there is a link between teachers’ use of ILEs and unlocking the potential of these new learning spaces. The research will be conducted by a team of researchers and PhD students at different locations across Australia and New Zealand. Find out more about the ILETC Project here.