The Paradoxical Art of Designing for Emergence

  • Stephen Mark CollisEmail author


This chapter explores the role of digital technologies in collaborative open space learning programs developed at Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney, Australia. The chapter begins by recounting the role of an in-house innovation incubator called Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning in nurturing a school philosophy that values emergent interactivity, and offers justification for this philosophy using Self-Determination Theory. It describes a number of ensuing open space learning designs, making specific reference to the practical use of digital technologies. The chapter concludes by proposing ecological design language that interprets structures in physical, virtual, and cultural space by their ability to facilitate emergent, unscripted interactions between people, their environment, and information. It emphasizes the paradoxical importance of linearity, constraint, and expert teaching in learning designs that set the scene for emergence to occur.


Flexible learning environments Emergence Self-determination theory Moodle Learning design Learning space design Flipped learning 

Supplementary material

Video 1

Students in Years 5, 6 and 7 review their experiences of two choice-based learning programs employing a Bloom's/Gardner's Matrix. The video was recorded in 2008. (MP4 8685 kb)

Video 2

In sequence, this timelapse video shows a co-taught Year 7 Visual Arts course, our "Zone" program where all 180 of our Year 5 and 6 students work together in a shared space with 6 teachers, our "Rhythm and Blues" High School Music course, Year 8 French, and finishing with further footage from the Zone. All scenes are typical and representative of the courses portrayed as they typically run. (MP4 29,306 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sydney Centre for Innovation in LearningNorthern Beaches Christian SchoolTerrey HillsAustralia

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