LEaRN@MGSE (The Learning Environments Research Hub)

Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN) is a cross-disciplinary research network with hubs in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. LEaRN is a multidisciplinary forum, a portal and an international network bringing together academia and industry to research, imagine and discuss physical learning environments in school, vocational, university, medical and corporate contexts.

The foci of LEaRN@MGSE are:

  1. To transfer research knowledge from LEaRN into MGSEs teaching programs and its own infrastructure development
  2. To build MGSE faculty research capacity in this rapidly growing area
  3. To undertake bespoke learning environment-focused research that aligns closely with MGSEs research priorities
  4. To act as an administration base for MGSEs contribution in LEaRN.

LEaRN website

LEaRN and associated researchers have been successful in attracting a wide range of research projects with individual schools, education departments, hospitals, and Category 1 grants. LEaRN has held four Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grants since 2008.

For more information on past and current LEaRN projects, visit the LEaRN website.

For more information on LEaRN’s current ARC Linkage, Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change (ILETC), visit the ILETC website.

In recent years Australia has witnessed significant federal and state government investment in schooling infrastructure. This stands at more than $25B since 2010, with a further $7B projected to be spent annually on new schools into the next decade. The majority of these builds will be of the genre loosely termed ‘innovative learning environments’, or ILEs. ILEs can be somewhat simplistically characterised as having highly flexible spaces, innovative furniture, and ubiquitous ICT. They facilitate, it is argued, learning that is collaborative and creative, and develops critical-thinking, highly communicative learners. As the Melbourne Declaration espoused, these are the skills being demanded of 21st century graduates entering our knowledge economy.

Given the supposed failure of 1970s open school programs that were driven by similar ideals of space facilitating differentiated learning, it is surprising that this massive investment comes with little commensurate research into the impact of these learning environments. The cross-disciplinary (MGSE/ABP/MDHS) Learning Environments Applied Research Network is one exception. Since 2009 LEaRN has won over $5M in ARC LPs, consultancies, and bespoke projects with schools on this topic. LEaRN began with a design focus, but in recent years has developed an additional speciality in both the evaluation of educational aspects of these spaces, and in exploring the complex intersection of space and pedagogy.