There is little doubt that the design of learning spaces is undergoing a fundamental change at the moment, but why should the evaluation of those spaces be a priority? These so called ‘21st Century’, ‘flexible’ or ‘Innovative Learning Environments’ (ILEs) are argued to be able to shape behaviour and experiences to affect a desired pedagogical change. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) describe ILEs as multi-modal, technology-infused and flexible learning spaces that are responsive to evolving educational practice. Authors suggest that the synergy of architecture and technologies (both digital and spatial) can facilitate a paradigm shift to learning from traditional or teacher-led pedagogies to more contemporary or student-centric learning modalities. Here there appears to be a rejection of the prevailing teacher-centred conventional or cellular classrooms in favour of flexible and learner-centred environments, which range from adaptive, purposeful spaces through to open-plan. The resulting allure of ILEs has seen them become a matter of policy and systemic investment, with OCED countries like Australia and New Zealand directing more than AUS$16B of public funding in building projects since 2009, and currently allocating up to $7B per year in future infrastructure. This is a huge investment. On what grounds is it warranted? Where is the evidence?
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