Midwest CEFPI Preps for Regional Conference

MINNEAPOLIS — The Midwest Great Lakes Annual Regional Conference of Council of Educational Facilities Planners International (CEFPI) is scheduled for April 25 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis.

The theme of the 2012 Regional Conference — One Voice: Coming Together to Transform Education, Whatever it takes/Wherever it leads — will center on the need for a more holistic approach to the planning and design of learning environments.

Social media theorist Clay Shirky and Design Revolution author Emily Pilloton are among the keynote speakers. The schedule also includes activities centered on reflection and relationship building to allow participants the time to digest the key messages and understand how they apply to them personally. The event will culminate in a “mash-up” session that invites the full range of attendees to respond to a specific design challenge that they help define.

“The world has changed radically and the skill sets needed by our learners to succeed in the future have expanded to include those of creativity, innovation, collaboration, critical thinking, curiosity, communication, and even citizenship,” says Judith Hoskens, REFP; LEED A.P., associate principal at Cuningham Group Architecture in Minneapolis, Minn.

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“Mass personalization is key to tapping into the energy and joy of learning and in allowing each and every learner to progress at his/her individual pace. Leveraging technology to assess individual interests and strengths is critical to creating meaningful learning experiences that can instill a passion for lifelong learning. Examining what works in countries such as Finland where its entire educational system is centered on trust and where teachers are highly valued for their role as Knowledge Workers and Innovators; and where all learners feel valued, whether on an academic or vocational track has applications here at home. Moreover, research is pointing to the success of design thinking, a project-based, hands-on approach that allows the learners to actively engage in the learning process itself.”

The diversity of conference participants may include the business community, college of education leaders, parents, design school representatives and policy makers. Dubbing the event an “UnConference,” Hoskens expects the Regional Conference to broaden the participation of those in attendance.

“We have a unique opportunity to include representatives of all the major stakeholder groups together to model collaboration and unify our collective voice. We need a holistic approach that breaks down the silos between K-12 and higher education,” Hoskens says. “And most importantly, we need to include the learners themselves as they stand to gain the most in this dialogue.”

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