PROCESS POST: Seeing the pedagogical master plans on a pin-board. #PedagogicalMasterPlanning

Why has campus master planning developed as a field of work?

  • Is it because we put such high value on land use, and we realize the scarcity-of-land dilemma…so we want to plan and plan and plan most carefully before we commit land and resources to construction?
  • Is it because campus master planning makes thinking visible? By constructing campus master plans, we can better visualize the way that academic centers, athletic complexes, art studios and theaters, and green spaces relate and complement and supplement each other?
  • Is it because the construction of buildings and hardscapes and landscapes seem so relatively permanent that we want to make sure that the engineering systems of plumbing, electrical, air, etc. are well-conceived so that we minimize future issues of wishing that we had put “that there and this here?”
  • Is it because we recognize the wisdom of soliciting input from the wider community about our use and intents with space and architecture?
  • [Fill in your good thinking and hypothesizing here…]

In Melanie Kahl’s October 1st MindShift article, “Recasting Teachers and Students as Designers,” Kahl wrote:

The design field covers the gamut of industries in art and science of making ideas, mindsets, and methodologies tangible. (emphasis added)

In my mind’s eye, I can see comparable graphics and imagery for pedagogical master planning. I can see bubble diagrams that relate a methodology like project-based learning to various assessment-feedback systems. I can see these in my mind – moving from hazy, grey images to sharper, clearer pictures – just like I can see on a campus master plan how the academic center and athletic facilities relate to each other. I can see how a school technology plan “fits” or doesn’t with the school’s move to integrating the Maker Movement into it’s STEM-STEAM-STREAM plans – just like I can see on a campus master plan how the systemic, infrastructure engineering schema optimize the flow of water and gas to the various buildings on campus.

What if we pursued design-based planning in the pedagogical and instructional domains at the level of detail constituted on campus master plans? What if we thought of standards, assessment, curriculum, pedagogy and instruction, professional development, and learning environments as the integrated and interrelated sub-systems that they are?

  • Would we value the systemic construction of minds and hearts to a more comparable degree to that of buildings, hardscapes, and landscapes?
  • Would we be more able to make our thinking visible and reveal such epiphanies as “our assessment model is misaligned with our plan to move to more challenge-based learning?” Would we realize that our selection of tech tools and furniture is not optimized with our habits-of-the-mind philosophies?
  • Would we re-think the design of the “school day” appreciating that faculty would HAVE TO HAVE TIME to collaborate on the overall scope and sequence of wisdom-and-understanding formation amongst our student learners? Would we re-imagine the flow of the “school day” to optimize what we are learning about the brain and neuroscience? Would we re-consider our existing definitions of what constitutes a “classroom?”
  • Would we enhance and improve the partnerships and teams we could have with parents, businesses, NGOs, and other people and organizations of the surrounding community…because our children’s educations are THAT important?
  • [Fill in your good thinking and hypothesizing here…]

Yes, I can see it in my mind’s eye – a beautiful set of detailed, designed, customized plans that SHOW VISIBLY the intersections and surrounds of standards, assessment, curriculum, pedagogy and instruction, professional learning, and learning environments. And I believe we are going to figure out how to create and optimize such plans at Unboundary. Then, we could place such plans on a pin-board wall and work to make certain that the construction phases, blueprints, engineering schema, and contracting notes are well-understood by the entire team – in this case…students, parents, faculty, business and social innovation partners, administrators, alumni, receiving colleges and universities, etc.

I can see it plainly. Can you?

Some questions I continue to research about #PedagogicalMasterPlanning

Schools and universities are making huge decisions about academics and instruction, partly to “keep up” with other decision-making institutions doing likewise.

The University of Virginia board’s decision to dismiss Teresa A. Sullivan as president in June illustrated the pressure on universities to strike MOOC deals quickly to keep up with peer institutions, said Martin D. Snyder, senior associate general secretary and director of the department of external relations for the American Association of University Professors.


Schools and universities spend millions and millions of dollars on planning and construction of physical spaces and buildings.

Phase One of the master plan (2008 through 2017) calls for more than $750 million in new facilities and infrastructure construction on the campus


Schools and universities are investing enormous time into meeting with stakeholders and gathering input from various constituencies about campus master planning and physical buildings.

The core of the planning process focused on engaging the university community in crafting a plan for the future of Carnegie Mellon. Town meetings were widely advertised and dozens of meetings were held with students, faculty and staff as well as neighbors in Oakland and Squirrel Hill and the City of Pittsburgh.

Are schools proactively thinking and planning about the big academic and instructional decisions they face…and master planning for the consequent issues that are symbiotically affected?

Are schools investing comparable dollars into the master planning for academics, pedagogy, and instruction – similar to the dollars spent on physical master planning?

Are schools devoting similar time to gathering stakeholders and constituents to discuss the academic, pedagogical, and instructional future of their organizations and the overall institution of education?

[Note: The above is not intended as commentary or criticism about University of Virginia, University of Massachusetts of Boston, or Carnegie Mellon University. Rather, in my investigations, these are quotes that spurred ideas of possibility for me around the future of pedagogical master planning. Shouldn’t schools make decisions from “academic-architecture plans?” Shouldn’t schools spend comparable money on the core of the organization – the academic architecture? Shouldn’t schools convene similar quantities and qualities of meetings for developing academic architecture? And, perhaps, some are doing so. But I’m not finding those articles or sharings online.]

Pedagogical Master Planning – the beginnings of a major study and implementation

Today, I continued to explore and research the idea of master planning in schools. I am particularly interested in processing through complex thoughts about the purposeful design and architecture of school pedagogy. Here are a few of my take-aways from today’s research:

1. Googling “campus master planning” and “pedagogical master planning” (and some related search strings) resulted in about 3:1 results for campus master planning. In fact, I think the ratio is skewed. Many of the finds in “pedagogical master planning” turned out to be campus master plans when I searched the links more deeply. None of the links I explored in “campus master planning” turned out to be pedagogical master planning hidden in the gross results. Does this imply that we are at least three times more committed to planning the physical campus than we are to planning the pedagogical campus? [Please forgive my crude statistical analysis here. I’m still working at the surface of this search.]

2. The best (only?) examples of pedagogical master planning that I could find (so far) come from Australia. I was impressed by the concepting and work being done at the Southern Metropolitan Region in Victoria, Australia. From a PowerPoint deck, I could see great potential and excitement around the work. And in a PDF of the workshopping materials, I was captivated by a four-degree rubric for vision, curriculum implementation, pedagogy, personalized learning, etc. The only U.S. examples that I have located thus far are from universities and large public systems, and many of those seem to cross into big-picture strategic planning without much architectural detail, or into campus master planning.

3. In looking at about 30 campus master plans, I was struck by their common approach to mapping. Many, if not all, of the campus plans included color-coded legends that showed 1) existing construction, 2) phase I new construction, 3) phase I renovation, 4) phase II new construction, 5) phase II renovation, etc. I wonder if we could demonstrate the existence of such a plan with regard to pedagogical master planning in schools. In a faculty and administration of, let’s say, 200 people, could we discover a universally agreed upon sense of 1) which traditional pedagogies were to remain in place, 2) which “new” pedagogies would emerge systemically in phase I, 3) which consequential renovations would therefore need to take place in terms of classroom design, technology use, communication to parents, etc?

The searching and thinking will continue…