Herman Miller and Intereum were sponsors of the most recent Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Breakfast at Concordia University on October 22, 2010. Our position is that awareness of issues that are important to educators today is vital to creating relevant and useful educational spaces. In addition to this, these breakfasts are very interesting and valuable for a number of reasons:
1) Networking with leaders of education in Minnesota
2) Open discussions about the current state of education
3) Brainstorming about the future of education
4) Recommendations on resources that leaders in education are using to develop their vision for the future
These sessions have many speakers who focus on expectations, results, processes, goals and paradigm shifts. The speakers also talk about the vitality of education. Learning empowers students by providing them with high-level skills like: Non-routine Problem Solving, Adaptability, Complex Social and Communication Skills, Self Management/Self Development and Systems Thinking. All of these aforementioned skills are goals of any student with a 12th grade education. Education also lays the groundwork for students to be able to “cope with complexity”.
Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) and Teamwork were two topics covered in this specific meeting. Both of these trends are “challenge-based” and require that spaces become more interactive and adaptable. Essential details of these spaces (as determined by this group) are: flexibility (not too many walls), casters, flip-top tables, furniture that has more than one purpose, spaces that facilitate many types of learning and conversations, using the “Spaces Between Spaces” for convenient collaboration and informal gathering spaces (also called 10-Minute Gathering Spaces). These types of spaces enable high performing teams to excel. Some characteristics of high performing teams are the following: committed, respectful, work within parameters, have a shared vision or goal, everyone is invested in the goal, accountability, common approach, can work in any type of space and usually have a small number of people.
A couple of reference materials were mentioned in this meeting. One book is called Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson. He says, “Teachers now need to be designers of learning experiences, processes and environments.” Another reading pertaining to High-Performing Teams was mentioned. The book is named Leading Teams by J. Richard Hackman.