New Directions Symposium

February 1-2, 2024
Hyatt Place Downtown Phoenix
150 West Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003

New Directions

A4LE in partnership with EDI


This symposium taps the expertise of world-renowned experts to address some of the most pressing challenges posed by a rapidly changing world. It focuses on several new directions that require rethinking of the traditional education system, policies, and curriculum. According to the world economic forum, here are the skills that education needs to prepare students for:
  1. Global citizenship skills
  2. Innovation and creativity skills
  3. Technology skills
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Personalized and self-paced learning
  6. Accessible and inclusive learning
  7. Problem-based and collaborative learning

Our society is in the middle of an epochal transformation, steered by rapid technological advances, societal shifts, and a global awareness of the urgent challenges that confront us all. Despite the seismic changes in almost every domain of human activity, the architecture of schools and the pedagogical paradigms they embed have been stubbornly resistant to meaningful evolution.

It’s precisely this resistance, often veiled as tradition, that we aim to challenge. The inertia in school design is also fueled by a disconnection from the rich tapestry of interdisciplinary research that could revolutionize the way we think about educational spaces. This symposium translates complex research from disciplines like neuroscience, psychology, health and well-being, and behavioral economics into a call to action. It will explore concepts such as educational architecture powered by AI, Self-Determination Theory and Choice Architecture to show how these ideas play an important role in school design.


Subject to change | *times shown in Mountain time

All sessions will take place at the Hyatt Place Downtown Phoenix in the Revival Ballroom
150 West Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003

8:00 – 9:00 AM
Breakfast on your own
8:00 – 9:00 AM Registration & Networking
9:00 – 9:10 AM Opening Remarks
John Ramsey, CEO, A4LE
9:10 – 10:00 AM Bold New Approaches to Education & Learning Places
This solutions-focused interactive talk will highlight new directions in education that have the potential to improve the current system of schooling by providing more personalized and relevant instruction, increasing student engagement, and better preparing students for the workforce. For school administrators, architects and facilities planners, these new directions pose difficult challenges especially as they grapple with ways to revitalize aging capital infrastructure built well before these new directions had started to take hold. This session will provide some specific strategies to address those challenges. It will build upon and expand the ideas originally proposed during the 2023 New Directions Symposium and provide the groundwork for the rest of the day’s sessions.

Prakash Nair, AIA
President & CEO
Education Design International
10:10 – 11:10 AM Self Determination Theory & Choice Architecture
Self Determination Theory is a theory of motivation that focuses on individuals’ inherent growth tendencies and innate psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We’ll explore together how school design can facilitate these needs, fostering a motivational climate that encourages engagement, curiosity, and positive behaviors. This session will showcase ideas that attendees can immediately put into practice to design schools that nurture self-determined learners.

Choice architecture refers to the design of environments that subtly shape the way choices are made. This concept hinges on the premise that the ways choices are presented can significantly influence the decision students make, often without their conscious awareness. Attendees will learn how, in the context of learning spaces, choice architecture provides a powerful tool for enhancing student engagement, autonomy, and overall well-being.

Dr. Parul Minhas
Director of Research & Digital Innovation
Education Design International
11:10 – 11:30 AM Networking Break
11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Green Schoolyards for Healthy Communities: Catalyzing Educational Innovation
Step into the realm of green schoolyards, a pivotal platform where educational innovation meets environmental stewardship. This session delves into the transformative impact that nature-rich outdoor spaces have on educational communities. By incorporating natural elements like gardens, trails, and play areas, we not only enhance learning experiences but also foster resilience and sustainability. These green spaces are more than just enhancements; they're fundamental shifts toward a more engaged, healthy, and ecologically conscious generation. Participants will explore how these verdant havens support the symposium's vision of pioneering educational methods and environments, challenge traditional infrastructure, and offer dynamic, adaptable solutions for our evolving educational needs. Discover how green schoolyards can become cornerstones of our communities, empowering students and educators alike to cultivate well-being, creativity, and a profound connection with the natural world.

Anna Klare Harrison
Director of Educational Innovation
Education Design International
12:30 – 1:30 PM Lunch and Networking Break
1:30 – 3:30 PM Designing the Future: Collaborative Innovation in Educational Spaces
This interactive workshop is a deep dive into the collaborative design process tailored for educational spaces. Louis Sirota and Jay Litman will guide participants through hands-on design activities, inspiring creativity and collective problem-solving. Attendees will engage with real-world case studies that challenge conventional learning environments and brainstorm innovative solutions that drive forward the symposium's theme of pioneering education and learning places. This segment is dedicated to exploring the tangible impacts of design on educational outcomes and will provide participants with practical strategies for implementing cutting-edge learning environments that resonate with modern educational demands.

Louis Sirota, AIA & Jay Litman, AIA
Director of Design & Principal Architect
Education Design International
3:30 – 3:45 PM Networking Break
3:45 – 4:30 PM Insightful Horizons: A Collective Debrief
This session is dedicated to synthesizing the day's learning and sharing of insights gleaned from the design studio experience. In a moderated group discussion format, participants will reflect on the challenges and opportunities of designing holistic learning environments that align with the symposium's visionary goals. It is an opportunity for attendees to distill their ideas, address potential obstacles, and envision practical applications of their collective creativity in designing educational spaces that foster engagement, wellness, and adaptability in an evolving educational landscape.

All Presenters & Participants
7:30 – 8:30 AM Breakfast on your own
7:30 – 8:30 AM Registration & Networking
8:30 – 10:30 AM Constructing Modern Knowledge
In an age of AI and uncertainty what should learners experience in the beautiful spaces we create? Through a variety of hands-on learning adventures, we will explore exciting ways in which schools may remain vital, joyous, nourishing for educators, and home to the best seven hours of a kid’s life.

For more than four decades, teacher educator Dr. Gary Stager has been at the forefront of 1:1 computing, project-based learning, online education, the maker movement, computer science for all, and arts education. Gary works with public and private schools from New York to Melbourne to Reggio Emilia. He is a popular and provocative keynote speaker at the world’s most prestigious conferences, co-author of one the most influential education books of the past decade, led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools, created a utopian learning environment inside of a troubled prison for teens, was a member of the MIT Media Lab’s Future of Learning Group, and collaborated on a Grammy winning project.

This workshop offers experiences that will raise expectations, inspire courage, celebrate creativity across multiple intellectual domains, and model learning without being taught.

Bring your laptop and imagination. Hard fun is guaranteed.

Dr. Gary Stager
International Educator, Speaker, and Consultant
Author, Invent to Learn
10:30 – 10:45 AM Break & Networking
10:45 AM – 12:30 PM Constructing Modern Knowledge (Continued)
12:30 – 1:30 PM Closing Lunch & Networking


Commercial Member: $400
Commercial Non-Member: $500
School District Member: $175
School District Non-Member: $250
Student: $75 

Registration capacity is 160 attendees for this symposium. Registration closes January 25, 2024.


Payment/Cancellation Policy
All registration payments will be required by the start of the event. Cancellation requests must be made in writing to [email protected]. There is a $65 processing fee for all cancellations, no refunds will be issued for registrations cancelled after January 25, 2024.


AmTab Artcobell


Orcutt Winslow



Hotel Accommodations

Hyatt Place Phoenix Downtown

Hyatt Place Downtown Phoenix

150 West Adams Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003

Room Rate: $269.00 plus taxes
Cut-off Date: January 7, 2024

Book Your Room

Check in: 4:00 PM
Check out: 11:00 AM

Become a Sponsor!

Title Sponsor – $5,500

  • Logo on all pre and post symposia email campaigns
  • Three (3) complimentary full-symposia registrations
  • Table top display / booth (6ft table)
  • Take-one table literature opportunity
  • Full post-conference attendee list

Innovation Sponsor – $3,000

2 Available | 1 SOLD
  • Logo on all pre and post symposium email campaigns
  • Two (2) complimentary full-conference registrations
  • Take-one table literature opportunity
  • Full post-conference attendee list

New Directions Sponsor – $2,000

4 Available
  • Logo on all pre and post symposium email campaigns
  • One (1) complimentary full-conference registrations
  • Full post-conference attendee list

Change Sponsor – $1,000

5 Available
  • Logo on all pre and post symposium email campaigns
  • Take-one table literature opportunity
  • Full post-conference attendee list
Become a Member


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