Part 3: The New Classroom
David Jakes is the Director of Learning Spaces for EdTechTeam and leads the Learning Space Design Studio. The Studio, created to support schools in developing compelling and engaging learning environments, is the most recent addition to the comprehensive services offered by EdTechTeam.
The fundamental spatial unit of learning is a classroom. But that is shifting. With the emergence of technology, and the rise of global connectivity, how people learn and where they learn is rapidly shifting.
No one should discount the importance of a location like a classroom. Such a space honors the timeless value of the interactions between student and caring adult. Such a space remains relevant because that’s where kids are located.
But it’s time to change what that space looks like and how it supports learning. Are rows of desks, a dedicated front of classroom, with a teacher desk and posters on the wall something that inspires today’s student?
The first step in redesigning the classroom is to discard the notion it has to be a “classroom". Re-crafting spaces into contemporary learning spaces can mean many things. The identification of the desired student learning experience is essential in that process, and it should come first, but what schools do with furniture, with wall finishes, with technology, lighting and floors is indeed important.
The new classroom is most likely highly flexible and agile. Flexibility relates to the ability to reshape the space; agility refers to the speed at which that can be done. Both concepts considered together create the characteristic of adaptability and the classrooms capability to shift and support a shifting expectation for learning over time, perhaps over a decade or longer. The new classroom is also interconnected with digital spaces that support learning in physical classroom spaces, but can also serve as their own learning venue. There is no doubt that inspiring spaces for learning include both physical and digital spaces for learning and employ student technology devices as the conduit between the two.
How schools help teachers see how these new spaces can support learning is an important question. Spatial change guarantees only that students will sit in more comfortable furniture. Obviously, there is much more than that at stake. Schools must work with teachers to understand how that change can support a new vision for learning as specified by the expectations for the student experience. Schools should provide professional learning opportunities for teachers to help them understand how to use new spaces in their roles as designers of experience.
It’s time to change the image of the traditional classroom. It’s time for a new tradition, one built on creating dynamic and inspiring spaces that are relevant to today’s student and that support a new and contemporary learning experience.
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