HISD designs 21st century learning spaces for global graduates

How do 21st century school designs support HISD’s mission to produce 21st century global graduates?

As HISD works to build or renovate 40 schools under the district’s bond program, educational facilities planners, architects, and designers are collaborating with educators to address that question. Their mission is to develop innovative design concepts that will enrich the experience of students while incorporating flexibility to adapt to dynamic 21st century educational needs of global graduates.

Dan Gohl, HISD Chief Academic Officer

Dan Gohl

In a recent workshop for educational facilities planners from several states, HISD’s Academics Special Assistant Dan Gohl teamed up with General Manager of Facilities Planning Sue Robertson to discuss future trends in education and how the design of educational facilities can have a big impact on the success of students and teachers.

“The spaces that we design today are going to need to be repurposed for tomorrow,” Gohl said. “Some kids are coming into kindergarten knowing what our second-graders used to know, so … we’re going to start seeing age being separated from grade.”

Sue Robertson, HISD's General Manager of Facilities Planning

Sue Robertson

Environments that support 21st century learning are an important piece of HISD’s plan to produce global graduates, which are students who are prepared to succeed in college and careers. Some common characteristics in these designs incorporate open, flexible learning spaces, natural light, state-of-the-art technology, and areas to facilitate project-based learning in groups.

“As planners, we need to ask the right questions,” Robertson said. “What are we doing different now to make sure that we’re ready for tomorrow and the day after? How are kids in the spaces we design and build producing information?”

HISD ‘s Global Graduates initiative is a districtwide effort to ensure every student who graduates is a college-ready learner, a leader, a skilled communicator, a responsible decision maker, a critical thinker and adaptable and productive.