Child Focused Design

A systemic approach to child-focused design (Zahra Zainal)

Recently, Adelaide has emerged as a city with innovative learning environments that support new practices across sectors of education. The Building Learning Ecosystems conference showcased a vast array of learning environments in schools, universities, cities and nature. Bringing together a unique community of professionals together to debate and explore learning to help shape the future of learning environments. 

Learning ecosystems represent a positive future for human environments. Environments where a balanced system of internal (familial, personal, cultural, spiritual), external (learning settings, curriculum, pedagogy, teaching practice) and place related (learning spaces, whole buildings, campuses, nature, city, digital) components support learning and development and continuously adapt to changing circumstances.

As a keynote speaker, Helen Connolly outlined what children and young people have said. This includes what they need from schools to feel positive about their future and balance their wellbeing and academic achievement. The Commissioner shared students’ ideas on small scale changes at the individual and classroom level that make big differences in their lives. Differences such as more participatory and inclusive classrooms, kind and welcoming environments, more engaging and meaningful lessons, and more trusting and respectful relationships between students and teachers. These observations have been made across South Australia with consultations across all regions, school sectors, and economic disparities. 

An example of how learning environments can be innovated has been scribed by Zahra Zainal here.

Keynote Speakers:

Helen Connolly – Commissioner for Children and Young People
The Hon Julia Gillard AC – 27th Prime Minister of Australia
Dr Kristin Alford – Director, MOD, University of South Australia
Fred Heidt – Executive Principal, Youth Inc. 
Professor Pascale Quester – Vice Chancellor and President, Swinburne University of Technology
Louka Parry – CEO + Founder, The Learning Future