Globally, students have evolved into tech savvy, connected individuals who work best in an engaged, participatory learning environment. They have been born into the technologically advanced age and are entering school with a heightened digital acumen. The nature of the classroom is also changing, from the physical layout of the space, to the way educators and learners share information. In addition, educators are feeling the pressure to deliver higher test results, increase collaboration and drive engagement, often with restricted budgets.
Despite the fact that students are changing, technology is changing and pedagogy is changing, the classroom environment of fixed, row-by-column furniture that faces forward, remains the standard. It begs the question: how can technology and space more effectively support educators and students to improve engagement?
In order to fill this gap, the classroom of today has to consider how technology and the physical space are designed and integrated with pedagogy to create a more active and engaging experience for instructors and students alike. Pedagogy, technology and space, when carefully considered and intentionally designed, can establish new protocols for advanced learning environment solutions.
Sean Corcorran, General Manager at Steelcase Education Solutions, discusses why it is important to make every space an ‘active learning environment’ and provides us with some guiding tenets on how to start reimagining the classroom space.
1. Design for quick transitions among multiple teaching modes: lecture, team, project, discussion, etc. from passive to active engagement
2. Design for peer to peer learning
3. Allow freedom of movement for the instructor, move away from the concept of the instructors space being fixed to the top of the class
1. Design for sharing, take advantage of all spaces for display
2. Explore new media, including personal and in-room technology
3. Take careful consideration of all learning styles and abilities and the tools to suit these requirements
1. Give every student the best seat in the house by ensuring physical and visual access
2. Design for quick ownership change, so classrooms adapt to changing users and varying class requirements
3. Design for quick reconfiguration among multiple modes; from project work to test taking.
Learning spaces can morph from lecture mode to teamwork to group presentation and discussion, and back again. Every seat can be the best seat in the house. Technology can be integrated in smart ways so everyone can use it. Classrooms just need to be carefully planned so that the control is placed in the hands of the students and instructors.