EDSpaces 2021

Can't-Miss Sessions and Workshops at EDspaces 2021

EDspaces 2021 is fast approaching! This year’s conference is scheduled from Wednesday, Nov. 3, to Friday, Nov. 5, in Pittsburgh, Penn. After the 2020 event shifted to a digital format during the pandemic, this year’s gathering marks the return to an in-person celebration of the educational facilities market. There’s so much to see and do that whether you’re attending the event yourself or following along online, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Below is a brief guide to some of the can’t-miss sessions and events at EDspaces 2021!

Plenary Keynote Session

This year’s keynote speaker is Bill Strickland, Founder/Executive Chairman of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation, and his presentation is titled “Make the Impossible Possible: A Blueprint for Change.” The EDspaces website states, “In his revolutionary book, ‘Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary,’ written with Vince Rause, Strickland reveals how each of us can reach our fullest potential and achieve the ‘impossible’ in our own lives and careers, and perhaps change the world a little in the process. Rather than teaching us how to succeed by the book, Strickland shows us how to defy habit, find purpose, and build businesses against the grain of conventional logic.”

Strickland will speak from 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Wednesday, Nov. 3.


This year’s conference will feature four small-group workshops allowing participants to engage in an active learning experience. Each comes with an additional cost and requires pre-registration; see the EDspaces website for details.

“Designing a Learning Community: Creating Places for Active Learning on a Budget” is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Nov. 2. The workshop will cover how to structure a design process to engage user voices at all organizational levels; how to coach educational leaders to use the learning environment’s design as a leadership tool; and understanding methods to leverage limited resources in the redesign of existing spaces. The workshop will feature five speakers including design team members, local designers, and representatives from Reimagine America’s Schools and Remake Learning.

“The Learning Ecosystem of the Future” is also scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Learning objectives include learning about mega trends and their potential impacts on learning; insights into helping co-create the future learning ecosystem; and gaining working knowledge of the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in 21st-century learning. Seven speakers will address the topic of “unlearning” our current method of schooling and rebuilding it with the consideration of factors like inequities surrounding funding, race, opportunity, mandates and testing regimes.

“Blurring the Lines 2.0: Agency, Personalization and Lifelong Learning in the Future” is scheduled from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 3. The session’s learning objectives include ideating the impacts of artificial intelligence and technology on the future; working to define the collective role of a community in a new paradigm; and how to consider equity and justice for future learners. Speakers from the DLR Group and Yorkville District 115 will discuss the distant future of education based on modern concepts and leveraging disruptive optimism.

Finally, “Well, Now What? The Next Paradigm Shift in K–12” is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4. Jonathan Matta, National Education Leader for KI, will take participants on a tour of 2,500 years of formalized education systems. He’ll explore how users, experience and environment have been affected by the events of the past year, and he’ll give tips on how educators can author a vision on where education can go from here.


There are also more than 70 EDsessions scheduled between Tuesday, Nov. 2, and Friday, Nov. 5. Just a few worthy of note include:

  • “Learning Playground: Adaptable Design Strategies for Equitable Access to Restorative Learning Environments” at 8 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 3
  • “Designing an Outdoor Classroom” at 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 3
  • “Together We Rise: Turning Tragedy into Triumph at Minnehaha Academy” at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Nov. 3
  • “Radical Change: Positive Impacts of COVID-19 on School Planning and Design” at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Nov. 4
  • “Building Bridges: Creating Transitional Learning Environments for Students to Young Adults” at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Nov. 4
  • “Designing for Mental and Emotional Health” at 4 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Nov. 4
  • “The Pandemic and the Pivot: Saving a $130 Million Project” at 9 a.m. EDT on Friday, Nov. 5

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].