This past weekend at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong, educators shared insights and stories around how they are re-thinking and designing of 21st century spaces to deepen student learning and foster 21st century skills

Below, I have included the major themes that emerged, with schools I have visited that I feel best embody them:


  1. Collaborative Spaces: Spaces that foster collaboration help heighten innovation and creativity amongst teachers and students. They provide a place for teachers and students to share ideas and learning to help answer big questions. School: ______________________.
  2. Flexible Spaces: Flexible spaces allow for spontaneous idea sharing and student autonomy. They also help facilitate small group learning which helps individualize experiences for students. Check out the learning pathways created by The Singapore American School here.
  3. Environmental/ Sustainable Design: Being amongst nature increases students capacity for innovation and creativity as well as their social, emotional and physical well- being. It also teaches them about the importance sustainability. Check out the sustainable design at The Green School of Bali. and The Hershey Montessori Farm School where students manage a farm. .
  4. Technology Integration: While we can’t predict exactly what technology the future will hold, we can predict that humans will have to creatively interact with it. Learning spaces and experiences must allow for this seamless interaction. Check out the trebuchet, printing press, and historical recreations a the Harbor School Foundry.
  5. Community- Centered: The lines between school and the outside world are becoming increasingly blurred. By creating spaces that allow easy access to and with the community, students will learn to solve complex problems that involve multiple stakeholders. Check out One Stone Academy and their community- centric school here.
  6. Visible Display of Student Work: Creating a space that allows for professional display raises expectations and authenticity for student work. It helps send a message that the space is shared and values each of its members. Check out High Tech High to see how they create public exhibition spaces within their school. Here: