Takeaways from SxSW Edu

  • March 28, 2018
  • Author: Stuart Brodsky

Personalized learning – the idea that educators, designers, etc., can tailor lessons or spaces to different levels of student learning – is a term that’s been growing in popularity over the past few years within education. And while the term has become better defined, methods to achieving personalized learning have broken into new realms of focus – from academic, to socioeconomic, to demographic – based on increasingly diverse student needs.

When I was onsite at this year’s SxSW Edu conference, many of the talks and discussions I heard focused on creating personalized learning experiences through establishing differentiation. The methods proposed ranged from new forms of curriculum design through the development of social programs, to how educators can use neuroscience to inform educational delivery and the physical environment. It was clear that educators and the few architects that attended agree – flexible learning environments will continue to guide the spatial model for the future of education, from the technology we incorporate, to the furnishings we utilize.

Another prominent theme this year surrounded designing for innovation and entrepreneurship, especially within PK-12 facilities. Talks focused on how the educational community needs to evolve to better prepare students for post-graduate or work experiences as early as high school. In fact, the panel I moderated – which included Kerry Weig, principal and architect for InVision, Cindi McDonald, the Superintendent for the Waukee Community School District, and Maddie Darveau, a former APEX/WILC student – discussed on how innovation centers can serve as the home for business mentorship programs, a growing  frontier for PK-12 facility design. We also explored how we can better prepare educators in using these new facilities, and help districts break through resistance to change to connect students to future career paths.

A third consistent theme onsite was the influence of technology in education, and edtech. Many discussions focused on the use of VR, AR and AI, with companies displaying hardware and demonstrating applications in exhibit halls. Organizations also presented research on how to utilize new technology methods (such as) AI to connect students, teachers and the community. An example provided was how AI can help students navigate course selection and scheduling; the technology can help give them a balance of work responsibilities with course opportunities. What wasn’t totally defined was how these newer technologies would impact the classroom or teaching environment. For example, on the A&E side, VR can be used to show designs, but how will educators adopt the tech hardware and integrate it into the daily student experience? That remains to be seen.

Overall, SxSW Edu offered an overwhelming array of topics and experiences, but was still incredibly informative for everyone attending, regardless of their background. I hope we can continue to attend and speak in years to come.

Learn more about our PK-12 expertise >

First LEED Platinum Certified Montessori School in Illinois

  • May 12, 2016
  • Author: Stuart Brodsky

In partnership with Chiaravalle Montessori School and Bulley & Andrews, CannonDesign is pleased to announce that Chiaravalle’s North Wing Addition has achieved LEED Platinum Certification.

montessori schoolWhen replacing their 60-year-old gymnasium annex, Chiaravalle Montessori, a PK-8 school located in Evanston, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago with a population of roughly 75,000, seized a rare opportunity to design a Montessori building to meet the needs of their Montessori program. Community-based planning served as a catalyst to build student centered learning environments, which celebrate the Chiaravalle community and Montessori curriculum. Designed with abundant natural light and a focus on bringing nature inside, the new 19,000 sf North Wing expands Chiaravalle’s programming options in the planned environment, offering more space for movement, collaborative learning, community gathering, and visual and performing arts. The new North Wing provides a central entrance, which offers welcoming spaces for parents and students to mingle. Adjacent “Gathering Stairs” support group and independent time and provide seating for performances and events. The Da Vinci Studio integrates art with science, technology, and mathematics to help students experience the connectedness of these essential disciplines. Sustainable features include natural daylighting throughout the building, photovoltaic panels, a green roof that efficiently manages stormwater, and a geothermal system, including a well field of fifteen wells, more than 500 feet deep.

montessori schoolSustainability by the numbers:

  • Consumes 50.8% less energy than ASHRAE 90.1 2007 baseline
  • 7kW roof-mounted photovoltaic array produces more than 5% of the building’s energy
  • Vegetated roof covers roughly 30% of flat roof area
  • Plumbing fixtures save 42.5% of water from baseline
  • Recycled materials make up 42.4% of materials used on the project
  • 79.4% of core learning spaces are daylit
  • High efficiency lighting and occupancy sensor control are 21% more efficient than code

Congratulations to Chiaravalle Montessori, on achieving their goal of becoming the first LEED Platinum Certified Montessori School in Illinois!

Learn more about the Chiaravalle’s North Wing Addition >