The traditional structures of work and education were forged in the fires of the Industrial Revolution. They shared many characteristics. They were rigid, hierarchical and based on a patriarchal approach to achieving their aims. In education, this manifested itself in the traditional didactic form that was, until recently, seen as the ideal model, based on teachers, tutors and lecturers imparting knowledge and learning to their pupils and students as part of an agreed curriculum and to an approved timetable. How well this process turned out was checked with periodic testing.
For some time now, people have been questioning this structure and, with it, the design of learning environments. Over the past few decades, we have not only developed the technologies to allow us to learn in new ways, we have also developed a far better understanding of the processes involved. Social changes have also encouraged us to reconsider the roles and structures of education to become more inclusive and diverse. It is one of the new tenets of modern learning theory that different kinds of learning goals require different approaches, the creation of new opportunities and the development of new environments.
This paper will consider the underlying drivers of these developments and consider how this is reflected in the design of new forms of learning environments as well as the lessons that can be learned for designers and managers of other types of spaces.
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