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Archive for April, 2007
When Laptops Can Shift the Needle of our Thinking Forward April 30th, 2007

There is much talk about the ’school of the future’ in the world of school design. Much of it here at DesignShare, to be truthful. But can you actually ’see’ it? Really SEE it?

After reading this recent CNET photo-essay (thanks to a link from Chris Lehmann’s recent blog post), we’d like to suggest that it may look like this (photo credit: Khaled Hassounah):

And perhaps the students, much like these young men and women, are the care-takers of the ’school of the future’, sitting on the cusp of remarkable changes ahead (photo credit: Khaled Hassounah):

Perhaps, this is their community, their parents, their history (photo credit: Khaled Hassounah):

And maybe, just maybe, with the simple arrival of ‘the future’, a community, a school, a generation of students (and all that guide them) are forever transformed (photo credit: Khaled Hassounah):

If you’ve been paying attention to education/technology conversations in the last year or two, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the MIT-driven ‘dream’ to provide a $100 laptop to students in developing nations around the world, computers that not only allow them to jump the digital divide, but to also do so intuitively, do so regardless of power-sources, do so in a networked alliance that is so often taken for granted in many parts of the technology-leading world.

Recently, a small Nigerian school was the world’s first recipient of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) prototype (photo credit: Khaled Hassounah)::

A little recent history:

Khaled Hassounah, director of Nicholas Negroponte’s [OLPC] program in Africa and the Middle East, has spent the last year touring schools in Nigeria. He and his team chose a school 10 miles outside Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to deploy the company’s first child-friendly laptops in the region.

These 10- and 11-year-old students are lucky to share three books per academic subject, a clock, bell, wall calendar, and science equipment consisting of a lever. Students in less fortunate schools might share three books total. With the XO Children’s Machine, OLPC hopes young students will have the tools to shape their own education.

Perhaps we can see the future. Perhaps it lies somewhere within our grasp. Perhaps it lies just outside of the normal equation, the normal assumptions, the normal answers. And perhaps designing, planning, and construction the ’school of the future’ doesn’t require tens of millions of dollars to fund the vision.

We highly recommend learning more about the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) program when time allows. And asking yourself — regardless of your role within the school design community — what impact we can have in ways we never imagined, both in developing nations around the world and communities just around the corner.

Recognizing “Schools as Centers of Community” April 26th, 2007

Whether or not one sees it as a rigorous architectural solution or a state-of-mind, we are all better served when schools serve as hubs for life in the larger community. To that end, we wanted to call attention to 2007 Richard Riley Award to recognized outstanding “schools as centers of community”:

The American Architectural Foundation, in partnership with KnowledgeWorks Foundation, is pleased to announce the 2007 Richard Riley Award. This annual award recognizes design and educational excellence in “schools as centers of community.” Sometimes referred to as “community learning centers,” schools that serve as centers of community provide a rich array of social, civic, recreational and artistic opportunities to the broader community and to students, often clustering educational and municipal buildings together. These additional services and opportunities can improve student achievement and help maximize local tax dollars.

To learn more, visit or download the press release here.


The winning school will receive a $10,000 prize and representatives will be invited to Washington, D.C., for an awards ceremony where former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley will present the award to the winning school. All public schools, new and old, including charter schools, are eligible to submit entries for the award.


Entries will be accepted online from April 2, 2007 to July 9, 2007.

“Spread the word!” We agree with the spirit of the organizing team’s recent email message. Get involved and nominate schools that are truly making a difference as hubs within their communities.

For questions about the contest, please contact Joyce Tsepas at

2007 Awards Registration Deadline Extended to May 4th April 20th, 2007

Thanks to wonderful feedback from design teams around the world, we are extending the Registration Deadline for the 2007 Awards program to May 4th.

This new date gives all interested teams 2 additional weeks to register their projects and begin uploading project content and images.


Registration & Fees | Eligibility | Principles | Submittal Requirements

Benefits | Review Team Jury Members | Media Partners | Support


Alternative Learning Centers | Early Childhood Programs

Elementary Schools | Middle Schools | High Schools | Higher Education

Contact with any questions.

DesignShare Contributor and Awards Judge Featured in New Edutopia Article April 3rd, 2007

Very pleased to see that the recent rumor of an upcoming Edutopia (George Lucas Educational Foundation’s remarkable education-oriented magazine) article focusing on Chris Lehmann’s school, the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, is now a reality.

Called “My School, MEET MySpace”, this is a wonderful companion piece to the article that Chris wrote recently for DesignShare called, “Designing School 2.0: A Study of Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy” this past month.

An excerpt from the Edutopia article:

Classes focus less on facts to be memorized and more on skills and knowledge for students to master independently and incorporate into their lives. Students rarely take tests; they write reflections and do “culminating” projects. Learning doesn’t merely cross disciplines — it shatters outdated departmental divisions. Recently, for instance, kids studied atomic weights in biochemistry (itself a homegrown interdisciplinary course), did mole calculations in algebra, and created Dalton models (diagrams that illustrate molecular structures) in art.

Such integration and pragmatism are not novel, of course. This is Dewey for the digital age, old-fashioned progressive education with a technological twist. But that twist is all important. Although Lehmann says technology is merely a tool, not the engine of the school, computers and networking are central to learning at, and shaping the culture of, SLA.

We love the idea of “Dewey for the digital age”, uniting extraordinary traditions and new ways of imagining the future of learning.

BTW, Chris has recently joined the DesignShare 2007 Awards jury, too.

A wonderful chance to team up world-class educators with world-class school designers in the review of innovative school designs from around the globe. Can’t wait for the debates and conversations to kick-off this June!

DesignShare Contributor and “Room to Read” Founder on Oprah Today April 3rd, 2007

John Wood, the founder and CEO of Room to Read, will be Oprah’s guest today!

A great chance for him to further share the extraordinary story of the creation of well over 3,000 schools and libraries in developing nations around the world. Definitely worth watching or taping!

You may recall that John was gracious enough to sit down and be interviewed by DesignShare a few months ago. You can read what he had to say at this link: “The Impact of Room to Read: John Wood Interview”.

We’d also recommend that if you haven’t already read his book, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children, this is a great opportunity to grab a copy. Truly an inspired read! And a great chance to get involved in helping to fund the creation of schools and libraries around the world where it matters most.

Get involved:

Want to get involved in helping to fund the creation of a school or library, or help fund a student’s scholarship?

Or maybe you’d prefer to get involved at the scale of a single book and still help spark tens of thousands of libraries world-wide?

Room to Read’s mission is to ensure that every child receives the lifelong gift of education. With the help of the “Oprah Winfrey Show”® we can dream big and reach our goal of establishing 20,000 bilingual libraries by the year 2020.

You can help change the world by donating today. Every dollar donated equals one book donated - $100 dollars equals 100 books - and an opportunity to change the lives of some of the 770 million illiterate people in the world.

Congratulations to John and the entire Room to Read team on today’s Oprah segment…and everything they’ve done up to this point in helping kids around the world learn to read! There is no doubt that once his story is shared through the Oprah network that even bigger things will be coming their way in the days/years to come! And best of all? Kids and communities around the world will be the real beneficiaries!

What is DesignShare? DesignShare is the central address for the very best in educational facilities and their impact on the learning process. DesignShare provides an invaluable service as a facilitator of ideas and resources about best practices and innovation in schools from early childhood through the university level. Who is DesignShare’s audience? DesignShare reaches a truly global community of professionals. More than 150,000 architects, planners, educators, and facility decision makers visit the site each month. Architects who specify products for schools and universities make up over half of DesignShare’s total readership. Who are our sponsors?
Fielding Nair International: Architects and Change Agents for Creative Learning Communities
VS America, Inc.: Ergonomic educational and office furniture.

Become a SPONSOR by Joining the "Partners in Education" Program.

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(Please note that DesignShare does not own the rights to most of the images on our web site. If you want to use an image in your own work, you must contact the architectural design firm directly in order to get permission.)
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