PROCESS POST: Further pushing my thinking about #pedagogicalmasterplanning #CornellMethod

The campus master plan begins with five fundamental principles and an overview of the essential features of the plan. The plan then looks at the campus from different perspectives, recognizing that each physical or functional “layer” is connected to every other layer. It first considers, at a regional scale, the land and communities that define Cornell’s setting. It then zooms into the Main Campus and uses the form of the land to help define a physical structure of open spaces and streets. Patterns of land uses and landscapes are layered over this structure. And networks and strategies for improving the campus’s transportation and utilities systems are described. The frameworks established by the plan will help ensure the principles and essential features are supported as the campus grows and evolves.

So begins chapter 4, of the Cornell Master Plan for the Ithaca Campus – Part 1: Overall Plan. And while I am very interested in the literal process of campus master planning, I am much more intrigued by the metaphorical power of such planning for creating something I am currently calling a “pedagogical master plan.”

The campus master plan begins with five fundamental principles and an overview of the essential features of the plan. 

  • This opening seems very “strategic plan” oriented to me. For purposes of pedagogical master planning, that could be a good thing. I am assuming that the community of stakeholders collectively determined this five fundamental principals and the essential features of the plan. Such would be critical in a PMP (pedagogical master plan). Using something like the discovery, interpretation, ideation, and evolution phases of design thinking, a school community could identify the fundamental principals of its PMP.

The plan then looks at the campus from different perspectives, recognizing that each physical or functional “layer” is connected to every other layer.

  • Ah, here is where the magic happens. There’s poetry in “recognizing that each physical or functional ‘layer’ is connected to every other layer.” If a school PMP possesses a fundamental principle of PBL (project-based learning, problem-based learning, passion-based learning, etc.), for example, then the physical and functional layers of assessment strategies, technology tools, open-or-closed communications systems, etc. must be explored and detailed with specific architectural plans and engineering detail. Literally, physical space issues of classrooms and other related learning environments must be examined because of the layers connected to PBL, assessment, technology, etc. Leadership models and professional development plans would need to be harmonized with such a foundational principle.

uses the form of the land to help define a physical structure of open spaces and streets. Patterns of land uses and landscapes are layered over this structure.

  • In a PMP, a school should consider the surrounding city and community. How might the PMP be influenced – and influence – the surrounds of the environmental surrounds? The “shape of the land” matters and has significant relationship to the learning structures that can be developed at a learning organization. Again, the “patterns of land uses” and how a school interacts with community could have significant role in assessment practices. For example, in partnering with community and utilizing the “landscapes” wisely and intentionally, student learners could partner with community business and prototype and present to what educators often refer to as “authentic audiences.” And why not? If student learners were engaged in high-quality PBL at a school that developed a vigorous PMP, then of course the students would be taking advantage of their local resources. But this would have to be detailed in the architecture of the plan. And the engineering specs would certainly include things like the technology-enabled communication that the students would have with business leaders and faculty facilitators and parents.

And networks and strategies for improving the campus’s transportation and utilities systems are described. 

  • Of course, in a PMP this element possesses both literal and metaphorical power. Continuing with the example of PBL, a school would need to factor in the purposeful use of transportation and equipment to enable the work to take place. Analogously, as well, a school PMP would expose carefully planned “utilities” for archiving, sharing, and seeking feedback on student learning through the PBL processes. Assessment as learning support – not necessarily evaluation and ranking – would need to align with the content, skills, and dispositions development intended by the project. Certain assessment “utilities” and “transportation systems” would be more ideal for PBL than others. For example, if students are partnering with city water works and water-related corporations to “solve water problems,” then I am dubious that paper and pencil tests and quizzes would be well suited to the desired outcomes.

The frameworks established by the plan will help ensure the principles and essential features are supported as the campus grows and evolves. 

  • In a PMP (pedagogical master plan), the frameworks would network and systematize the essential features and fundamental principles. As learning occurs and things evolve, the growth can be harnessed because of the thoughtful PMP developed by the school and its partners. Any “renovations and additions to the house structure” can be seamlessly matched and coordinated with the foundational principals…and the layered functions can respond accordingly – assessment, professional learning, technology, communications, etc.

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