The Felipe Segovia Chair for Innovation in Learning was established in 2014 under Professor Stephen Heppell and aims to be an international-standard for educational innovation.
In the words of Nieves Segovia, President of SEK Education Group, “This University and its tradition of innovation are the legacy of its founder, the first Rector and Chancellor, Felipe Segovia. Receiving the baton of these ideals is our foremost responsibility as educators. The Felipe Segovia Chair is a space to reflect on his work and thinking. For reflection, and for the continual perfection of our educational actions in the classroom.
I am happy to say that Stephen Heppell represents those values of excellence, of singularity, innovation, effort and striving for perfection that embody the vast personality and vocation of the man that lends his name to this Chair.”
Professor Stephen Heppell is one of the foremost international experts on the design of new educational paradigms. Stephen Heppell has spearheaded the transformation of education in countries such as China, Singapore, Australia, the UK, New Zeeland or Denmark, calling for action and sparking debate from a different and singular standpoint. Heppell has been a visiting professor at Camilo José Cela University over the last two years, during which time he has launched projects such as the Cine Forum, a film cycle showing different films on education at the UCJC Almagro Campus, and which kicked off in December with the documentary ‘Most likely to succeed’.
A constant in the life and work of Felipe Segovia was his vocation for innovation in all aspects of education. Aspects tackled by this reformist perspective included the school space; the use of resources for the teaching process; the change in methods; the new role of teachers and students; organisation and leadership of schools and redesigning the curriculum. His illustrious vision of an educational model ahead of its time and extending beyond the limits of the conventional classroom led to innovative educational experiences such as the first technology applied to education in the 60s, the construction of cutting-edge schools, open-space classrooms, the introduction in Spain of the International Baccalaureate, the recasting of quality standards for continuous improvements at schools and the Intelligent Classroom in 1995.
Felipe Segovia Chair for Innovation in Learning has as one of its main aims to connect the SEK Schools Educational Community and Camilo José Cela University, and acts as an action tank for training schemes on learning innovation and a think tank on learning as a strategic element in business for the third millennium.
With the help of two experts in designing and managing learning communities, Professor Stephen Heppell, organised a teacher training course at the UCJC School of Education. At the workshops, teachers shared their experiences on creating and managing TalkingHeads, one of the most prestigious virtual communities on education in the UK.
Professor Stephen Heppell is helping the management at SEK to initiate a pilot experience to set up two maker environments in SEK schools. From the design stage, Heppell proposed steering away from the commercial model of makerspaces used in the US and other wealthy countries.
Why does Professor Heppell talk about communities and environments and not makerspaces like everybody else? In his opinion and that of other educators, the true value of makers resides in the communities that host them and that support and encourage informal learning and positive ideals, such as responsible consumerism, resilience, emotional intelligence, solidarity, supporting others even strangers, openness, entrepreneurship and creativity. All of which are essential ideals in order to succeed in 21st century society. The maker learning-by-doing philosophy is compatible with any discipline, Heppell does not consider it the exclusive domain of specific areas, science, engineering, technology and mathematics, nor is it limited to certain technological devices. Electronics and programming are ubiquitous and serve any discipline, there are no longer any borders or boundaries between areas of knowledge. Art fuses with engineering and together they create impossible shapes.
In his opinion, they are all environments that are open to learning project development, where technology is a platform to foster creativity and innovation. Makerspaces, are not robotics and programming labs, nor science labs, craft workshops or digital factories. They are all of the above and we can add any other informal personal or formal academic learning activities, they all have the same aim, to help students develop. New information technology that are featured in these makerspaces helps delocalise learning, maker activities can overcome the physical boundaries of these spaces, and can be extended to the school’s classrooms.
Professor Heppell aims to find support in the SEK students’ enthusiasm to launch a learning support project for Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan. In this case, technology will allow students from Syria and Spain to learn together, which is testament to how learning is the best means to overcome cultural barriers. The universal principles of maker communities or Makers can be realised without technology kits or digital systems. In order to learn, children only need moral courage and self-confidence to build their future and country. Professor Heppell is convinced that Maker communities of any age and gender from SEK Schools will be of incalculable value to many children to escape exclusion with the help of their teachers.