Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC)

An Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project funded for four years from 2016 to 2019 led by The University of Melbourne.


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This project brings together the expertise of leading researchers in education and learning environments and 15 partner organisations in policy and industry from across four countries (Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States). It 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.

Detailed project outline

  • Objectives

    The role that ‘space’ can play in supporting teachers and school systems more broadly to meet emerging educational imperatives has become a highly relevant and topical issue. Governments around the world are beginning to invest billions of dollars annually in public education infrastructure. In Australia and New Zealand alone, the governments have spent more than AU$16 billion of public funding to build Innovative Learning Environments (ILEs) since 2010. The widespread investment in innovative learning spaces brings with it a substantive requirement for the development of deeper understandings about the relationships between pedagogy and space that can lead to future decision making based on research/evidence.

    To address this need, the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) team has initiated an Australian Research Council Linkage project called Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC). ILETC brings together researchers in education, architecture and design, along with 15 partner organisations, to examine the support required to assist teachers to realise the possibility of space as a component of their pedagogic practice, and examine the impact of this ‘change’ on student learning.   ILETC will build an evidence-base of ‘what works’ in terms of teacher transitioning to ILEs, design additional strategies to fill perceived gaps, and test this suite of strategies for effectiveness and applicability across the widest possible array of Australasian schools.

  • Outcomes

    The project will develop ‘good practice’ strategies for implementation of these across a wide range of educational sites in Australia and New Zealand. It will create robust data to verify this impact and guide future pedagogic, infrastructure and design developments. This project will bridge the gap between the unrealised educational potential of innovative learning environment design and how they are currently used.  It will develop a baseline of data from current research and collect new data from schools using surveys, observations and interviews to develop rich case studies. This data will be used to develop a range of resources and tools that will be available to all schools.

    The project will investigate ILEs and teacher practices from a range of perspectives:

    • Affordances of ILEs – the opportunities and facilities for learning provided by different types of ILEs and how they are currently being used.
    • Curating of learning – opportunities presented by museums in maximising features of the learning environment to contribute to students’ deep learning.
    • Teacher practices in ILEs – barriers for teachers to fully utilising the opportunities of an ILE for student deep learning Transitioning into ILEs – characteristics of successful and expeditious transitions from traditional classrooms to an innovative learning environment.
    • Virtual learnng environments - how well teachers utilise the qualities of the virtual/ICT in ILEs;
    • Teacher Spatial Competency - investigating the effect of teachers’ environmental capabilities on their teaching, and subsequent impact on different types of learning.
    • Design thinking - affordances of collaborative, design-led strategies to facilitate generative conversations in the context of ILEs.
    • Identifying evidence of learning – measuring the impact of strategies to identify instances of deeper learning.

    The research will be conducted by a team of researchers and graduate researchersat different locations across Australia and New Zealand.

  • Impact

    The project will bring together a wide range of partners—five education departments in the ACT, NSW, QLD, the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta and the Ministry of Education in New Zealand; six industry partners including a multi-national furniture company based in the USA, and an international acoustics firm based in Sweden, and Telstra; three leading research-oriented schools in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia; and the world’s peak international learning environment design body (International Association of Learning Environments).  This project has the potential for significant impact on both educational and design practices in the development and use of learning environments in Australia and New Zealand.  The involvement of partners from Europe and North America provide further opportunities for extending the projects influence. Beginning with focused research in selected schools, ILETC will also expand, in phase 3 of the project, to thousands of schools across Australia and New Zealand. Eventually, all scools will benefit from this unique knowledge.

Publications and project outputs

As our active ARC Linkage Project, ILETC has its own webpage which will be kept up-to-date with the latest publications, newsletters and technical reports. We will publish the key outputs as they become available here and in our publications repository.

Visit our ILETC webpage


Past people

Banner: Officer Secondary College, ClarkeHopkinsClarke. Photo by Rhiannon Slatter.