Innovative Approaches to Design & Education

February 7, 2018 | | View Comments

Get schooled on these five innovative approaches to education.


Education is the foundation upon which we build our lives. Engaging content is an integral component to inspire future generations into positions of innovative leadership and global contribution. Check out these five unique approaches to education innovation on a local and international level.

Project-Based Learning

The Cottonwood School is a small-scale Portland charter school committed to place-based education and community involvement. Serving 1st to 8th grades, The Cottonwood School structures learning through tangible and meaningful community experiences that create strong ties to the local community. The students and faculty have helped to create a podcast on the history of the Portland streetcar, learned about native plants at Lewis & Clark College, and assisted with the Cottonwood Bay stewardship project through Portland Parks & Recreation.

Immersive Learning

With a focus on primary education, The International School strives to create global citizens who will excel in a diverse society. Language is taught via the Immersive Method, where instructors with native-level fluency give 80% of weekly instruction in the target language (Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese). Regular conversation in the target language is also a priority, and mimics the way many of the students learned their first language.

Emergent Learning

The Childswork Learning Center is a non-profit preschool with an emergent and constructivist approach to early childhood development and learning. Based on the work of psychologists Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky, the curriculum develops from student interests; topics are selected as a class. “Investigations are shaped by the students’ decision making; children truly learn how to learn.”

Physical Space

The Panyaden School in Chiang Mai, Thailand exemplifies sustainable and local building materials with the construction of their brand new assembly space and sports hall. Built by Chiangmai Life Construction, the 300 person assembly space contains natural ventilation and insulation, and is designed to withstand high-speed winds, earthquakes and various global forces of the region. As the structure is entirely made from bamboo, it is carbon-neutral, as growing the bamboo absorbs higher levels of carbon than the amount emitted during treatment, transport or construction.

Virtual Space

ClassVR from Advantis Systems is a VR learning kit complete with 8 headsets, portable storage and charging, as well as a program where instructors can plan lessons and import custom VR content. The headsets, which include a screen, front facing camera, integrated WiFi and battery, can be controlled with various gestures and hand movements.

Want to learn more about the intersection of design and education? Join us at Design Museum Mornings to learn how physical, social, and inclusive environments play a key role in educational delivery with Jerry Waters at the PCC SE Library, February 9th from 8:30-10am!