Innovation with Level 5

Innovation with Level 5

Innovation seems to be the new catch phrase in education. Although I’ve never been one to jump onto the jargon bandwagon, the movement toward innovation within all areas of academia intrigues me. To an outsider, innovation should naturally have a permanent seat in all of our classrooms, but somehow we have subtly pushed all aspects of innovation out of our schools in favor of more “rigor”, more “testing”, more “content”, and a lot more “stress.”

Fun and creativity are at times almost non-existent when it comes to learning. Ask a student which classes are fun and they will immediately equate them as easy. In fact they are describing their ability to learn in those classes compared to those deemed as “hard”.

Level 5 Logo

A New Design…

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the opening of John Burn’s creation, “Level 5”, an innovative learning space that resides above Shekou International School (SIS) in China.  The innovative space is designed to move and be adjustable to the learning needs of students with a wide variety of experiences available to students depending on the project. The room is filled with moveable tables and walls, stackable chairs, 3D printers, Arduinos, Little Bits and writeable surfaces.

The premise is to create a space where teachers can come and help facilitate their students’ need for innovation. From what I know about Level 5’s downstairs neighbors at SIS, this space will be well utilized and become a hub of innovation for students of all ages. If you are in the Shenzhen region in January, Level 5 is offering MakeDays, hands-on workshops on LittleBits, wearable technology, EV3 robotic construction, and Arduinos.  

A Better Vision for Schools

In my utopian vision of schools, our classrooms will reflect this vibe of innovation and truly begin to loosen the reigns of content control. We must allow learning to become more authentic and idealistically real for the end users. Hopefully our classrooms will all become true hubs of innovation, but for now, Level 5 provides a model for schools to shoot for in the near future. Let’s begin to share how we are implementing innovation in our schools and model the transparency that promotes design and creates innovation for students around the world.

For more on John Burns, check out his recent interview on

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