Classrooms are not enough – new research report suggests

news | 30 Apr 2019

PRESS RELEASE: A radical new report from World Innovation Summit for Education-Innovation Unit calls for learners to get out of the classroom more and grasp the opportunities of flexible modern ‘learning ecosystems’.

The report, Local Learning Ecosystems: emerging models is part of the WISE report series, in this case in partnership with Innovation Unit, a leading innovation social enterprise.

It discusses how criticisms of the top-down “subject-based, didactic, one-size-fits-all” model of traditional teaching have led to the emergence of models which are networked, and more personalised to learner needs.

The study draws on nine case studies from across the world where students are taking up extra-curricular experiences and new career and cultural opportunities. The UK case study is the RSA Cities of Learning programme.

Drawing parallels with evolutionary biology, the report seeks to highlight initiatives which bring together interdependent education and training “organisms” to share knowledge and “build a wide range of possible new relationships among business, education, government, and community”.

It contrasts these connected “ecosystems” – comprised of multiple players including schools, universities and colleges, cultural and creative organisations, foundations, NGOs, cities and regions – with conventional systems where stand-alone schools find it hard to optimise the potential of their communities.

Dr. Asmaa Al-Fadala, Director of Research and Content Development for WISE, said:

“Today, learning is less and less the sole prerogative of schools. New ecosystems are emerging: they are learner-driven, comprised of a global network of organizations and they are supplied by technology. WISE is happy to collaborate with Innovation Unit to present this new addition to the WISE Research Series, that dives into the promises of these new ecosystems and their potential to transform how learning happens.”

Valerie Hannon, of Innovation Unit, said:

“Talk of ‘education ecosystems’ is everywhere, but what do we really mean? How useful is the concept, and what does it look like in practice? That’s what our work set out to discover. The questions we asked were: What are learning ecosystems? How are they different from partnerships in the past, and what are their prospects? How can successful models be scaled? How can sustainable funding be secured? What would be the ideal governance models for these amorphous systems? And how should their impact be assessed?.

The report will be launched at the House of Lords this evening with a panel discussion. It will be hosted by Baroness Prosser of Battersea and followed by a panel debate.

To download the report, click the image below.

WISE report cover

Notes to Editors:

The House of Lords panel includes:

  • Dr Asmaa Al-Fadala, Director of Research and Content Development, World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)
  • Ms Valerie Hannon, Co-founder and Board Director, Innovation Unit
  • Ms Rosie Clayton, Associate Director, Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)
  • Mr Tim Riches, Executive Director, Digitalme  

About the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE):

The World Innovation Summit for Education was established by Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the leadership of its Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative, evidence-based thinking, debate, and purposeful action in education.  Through the biennial summit, collaborative research and a range of on-going programs, WISE is a global reference in new approaches to education. The global WISE Summit held in Doha, Qatar will be from November 19-21, 2019 under the theme “UnLearn, ReLearn: What it means to be Human”.

For further information about WISE, visit

About Innovation Unit:

Innovation Unit is a social enterprise based in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. We work internationally, applying disciplined approaches to develop new solutions and create impact at scale. Through our projects and ventures we identify, create and scale evidence-based solutions, mainly focused on: children’s social care, learning & schools, healthy lives, early years and mental health.