Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ The Morality of Educational Architecture

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

There's this idea floating around that the architecture and design of education embodies a moral dimension. I see it in relation to educational spaces in this post, and I've seen it in a lot of the discussion around learning resources, open and otherwise. It's how questions of identity and sociality get wound up in discussions of instructional design and technology. This morality is often a check-list of compliance, as illustrated in this discussion of "Sydney's rubbish architecture," which suggests that morally good (?) buildings need to contribute to wellbeing, environmentalism, public-mindedness, and beauty.

And just so, Tom Barrett gives educational architecture the same treatment, offering a diagram that evokes echoes of the Lippitt-Knoster model of change as defining the spaces you need to innovate - physical space, cognitive, temporal emotional and agentic space, a list that reminds me of Terry Anderson's (expanding) list of presences. All of this (and the OER19 discussion too) presupposes that we've resolved the issues of morality and ethics, but I am far from reaching that conclusion. There are no common standards of 'good', much less 'good in a specific way' such as in educational architecture and design. And I think that before we lable something as 'moral' we have to have that conversation, the one that begins with a definition of diversity and pluralism, and which ends with an understanding of utility and perspective.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
stephen@downes.ca

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Last Updated: Jul 18, 2024 11:03 a.m.

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