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Pathfinders: Pilot Transformation

Unleash the Power of Space

Outdated facilities act as barriers for schools wanting to become more student-centered and innovative. Pathfinders allow schools to test new learning environments and discover what works. Pathfinders usually take a section of a building and convert it into a learning community, where the space catalyzes student-centered and innovative practices. Watch the video to see an example of a pathfinder.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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Target group
Students lower
June 2023
"The factor that overwhelmingly determined the way the children acted was the place in which they were observed.” Excerpt from Annie Murphy Paul's exceptionally well-research book, The Extended Mind.

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Around the world, there is a call for learning to be authentic, student-centered, and innovative. Unfortunately, the most common way architects design schools, using a "Classroom and Corridor" model, often limits these things. Pathfinders make it easy for schools to try different environments that are much more aligned with their values for teaching and learning, allowing innovators to innovate.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Pathfinders address the problem of outdated facilities by converting "Classroom and Corridor" spaces into vision-aligned learning communities. These communities use a diverse range of spaces to accommodate the needs and goals that are specific to each school's context - often there's a healthy mix of active classrooms for whole class activities, cave space for individual work & reflection, and collaborative areas for small groups.

Schools that have done this have amplified student and teacher voices by getting them to be co-designers of the pilot space. This intentionality to listen to the voices of users helps clarify the purpose of the Pathfinder, which impacts both the design of the environment and the readiness of the people who will use the space.

How has it been spreading?

Pathfinders are spreading, especially within schools and districts that have done one already. At Singapore American School, one Pathfinder led to another, which led to another, and then another - the effects became so profound that the Learning Community model overhauled their entire campus serving 4,000 learners.

In the Cranston Public School District in Rhode Island, Pathfinders led to the transformation of the district's oldest elementary school with amazing outcomes. The success led to the design and construction of a brand new elementary school designed around Learning Communities. That school is opening in the fall of 2023.

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Contact Nathan Strenge
+1 (320) 248-1135
Senior Learning Designer at Fielding International
USA Country Lead at HundrED

Implementation steps

Read about the Implementation Process

In 2018, Rhode Island’s Cranston Public Schools commissioned a district-wide master plan that set forward a vision to transform an aging building stock into modern, responsive learning environments. In preparation for a 2020 bond, the District wanted to establish a “Pathfinder” project that would set a new standard for their educational spaces going forward. Their Architects and Planners, Fielding International, identified the west wing of Eden Park Elementary School as a natural location to show the community a new vision for the design of teaching and learning spaces that more closely responded to the Educational Guiding Principles desired by the Cranston Community during the Master Planning process. The result is this highly successful “Pathfinder” project based on a wholistic “Learning Community” model rather than the now outmoded “Cells and Bells” model. A Learning Community is a powerful ensemble of spaces. It contains a shared learning common, a social heart, and a robust collection of discrete learning studios of varying sizes, small group rooms, and some seminar spaces, which can respond to individual needs and personalized learning.

Read cover story on Pathfinder: pgs. 31 - 37 in Planning Learning Spaces Magazine.

Identify misalignments in your learning ecosystem

When you and your community take time for authentic reflection and processing of outdated practices, you will start to identify steps to create an aligned learning ecosystem.

Spread of the innovation

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