Centre for School Design embraces Web 2.0

Yesterday saw the launch of the Centre for School Design in London. An initiative by the educational charity British Council for School Environments (BCSE), it was welcomed at an event in London Bridge by brief speeches from government minister Estelle Morris, design critic Stephen Bayley, Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged, and C4SD co-founders Ty Goddard and Ian Fordham.

I enjoyed some of Bayley’s typically provocative remarks, some captured in a series of Tweets:

Bayley: “great architecture needs great clients” and “God first made idiots as practice before he made school boards” 😉 #c4sd

Bayley: ‘very little formalised thinking about school design’ – classic school boards built to a cost rather than a principle

Social media played a part in the run-up to the launch with Ian using his network of friends and followers on social networks such as Twitter to invite people with an interest in both school design and in the use of Web 2.0 tools to capture and disseminate knowledge about good practice. (I received an invitation through my involvement with Be2camp.) The launch was also filmed by Gleeds TV, so you should shortly be able to see and hear the speakers on YouTube.

C4SD launch

The C4SD aims to get a buzz going about innovation in education, design and the built environment, and to create an information resource for all people involved with school design projects. Here, the pivotal role of social media is clear.

The C4SD website is structured around a blog; there are links to C4SD groups on LinkedIn and Facebook; you can follow C4SD on Twitter; there are also YouTube videos, incoming and outgoing RSS feeds, and a repository of images on Flickr, freely reusable under a Creative Commons license. The site will be populated with more material over the days and weeks ahead (and Ian will be talking about the C4SD’s use of social media at next week’s SMW Be2camp on Monday 1 February in London, which I am organising).

To me, this is a great example of a built environment organisation using Web 2.0 to both spread the word about its initiative and then building the tools and techniques into the fabric of its website. Given the subject matter and the high likelihood that many of the key stakeholders (not least, young people at school) will be active users of various social networks,  embracing Web 2.0 had to be a priority. It will also, I hope, encourage other organisations to incorporate these tools into their communications armoury when developing the next generation of schools projects. For example, at the launch, I met someone from contractor Interserve engaged on a Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project; perhaps we might see Interserve undertaking more stakeholder engagement through social media on his scheme?

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