6 Modern Ideas for Innovative K-12 Learning Spaces
- January 25, 2023
- Anthony Bowie
Author: Madison Johnson
Classrooms aren’t the only place for innovative design––more and more schools are coming up with modern ideas for innovative K-12 learning spaces. From media centers and cafeterias to STEM labs and English literacy spaces, schools are approaching learning space design with flexibility, collaboration, and multi-functionality in mind.
With innovative furnishings designed to adapt to evolving learning environments, MiEN is a trusted partner for schools who are looking to create modern, innovative learning spaces. MiEN creates inviting and functional spaces that are designed to meet the needs of modern K-12 schools and their students.
As schools work to introduce students to careers in STEM fields and prepare them to become the next generation of scientists, developers, engineers, and more, STEM programs are becoming more prevalent in schools. As these programs grow, students and educators can benefit from the creation of STEM-focused learning spaces in their schools. At H.B. Whitehorne Middle School in Verona, NJ, MiEN helped transform a former wood shop into a modern STEM lab, equipped with the furnishings and technology to support exploratory learning and innovation.
With the right design and furnishings, some traditional school spaces, such as the cafeteria, can be transformed into flexible spaces for lunch time, learning, meetings, and more! To support the new magnet school’s innovative approach to learning, Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation partnered with MiEN to create a space designed to simulate the look of modern workplaces. MiEN was instrumental in designing and furnishing the cafeteria space that takes on the appearance of a food court while also offering opportunities for additional instruction and learning to take place. Utilizing the FLEX Steps EVO tiered seating design, a comfortable and sleek lounging and stadium-style seating space was created in the center of the cafeteria. The school also opted for a mix of freestanding seated, cafe and coffee table heights, combining the KIO Straight, F4A, and Share tables with the the WDS 4-Leg chair and its companion WDS Café Stool––all together creating a highly flexible cafeteria space to accommodate a wide variety of functions and complement the unique program offerings at the school.
The design and function of school libraries has changed, with many schools opting for a modern, multi-use media center rather than a traditional library focused solely on reading and research. At St. Stephen Catholic School in Riverview, FL, MiEN helped to create a multi-use media center designed to support collaborative learning, integrate technology into the space, and improve student comfort. The school replaced its bulky old computer tables with more modern, comfortable options for students and teachers to use, and installed Chameleon Lounge seating and multi-use Connect collaborative tables throughout the room, knowing that its students would really enjoy the multiple options for learning throughout the space.
Classrooms shouldn’t be the only functional learning spaces in the school––common areas can also provide flexible and functional space for learning, socialization, and even relaxation. Crismon High School in Queen Creek, AZ wanted all of its learning spaces to function well and meet students’ needs, so they partnered with MiEN to create comfortable and inviting common areas. For the school’s cafeteria, MiEN helped Crismon select chairs, stools, high-top tables, soft seating and modular couches, which allowed the new school to satisfy a variety of different student needs with the same furniture. The school also invested in furniture equipped with casters to facilitate easy movement for flexibility and cleaning. With spaces designed for them to congregate, relax, and socialize in, students really engage with the common areas, ensuring these spaces are functional and useful.
Sometimes, mirroring the spaces that students will encounter in college and beyond can help create a unique and motivating environment. For Valley Christian School in Chandler, AZ, this meant turning an underutilized library into a college-like student union space to support collaboration and “student-centric” learning. MiEN helped the school design a functional and inviting space, which includes collaborative tables equipped with USB outlets, comfortable lounge seating, and even a small coffee shop where students can buy special drinks. This student-centered common area provides students with a space where they have voice and choice of whether they will independently study, meet for collaborative projects, or just relax and read.
As college campuses and modern workplaces continue to implement more shared, collaborative environments, schools are finding ways to create more collaborative learning spaces to prepare students for their future endeavors. When Mulberry High School in Mulberry, FL constructed a new building, they designed numerous collaborative spaces for specific learning areas. Working with MiEN, the school came up with function-specific designs that incorporated comfortable furniture, high-top tables and bright pops of color that both teachers and students enjoy and use regularly. The design and furnishings in each space were intentionally chosen to define the function and environment in each collaborative area. For example, in its English literacy content space, there is a “library feel,” complete with sofa-type furniture and soft seating. The collaborative spaces focused on math, on the other hand, had to be tech-friendly with high tables, ergonomic stools and large smartboard monitors for students working in groups. The variety of different collaborative learning spaces enhances teaching and expands learning opportunities for students.
MiEN’s award-winning designs are flexible and adaptable, incorporating mobile and collaborative features that support 21st century learning concepts. A growing number of schools have chosen MiEN Company as their furnishing and design partner, supporting learning and collaboration in their schools and districts through modern, innovative K-12 learning spaces.
Madison Johnson, Vice President of Interior Design and Sales Support, leads a team of designers at MiEN Environments and has 5 years of industry experience. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts for Interior Design from the University of Central Michigan. She believes that each student has a unique learning style and being able to offer a variety of zonal areas in a classroom will allow those students to feel empowered and increase their productivity.