Designing Learning Spaces for Today’s Students with Their Futures in Mind
- September 10, 2020
- Anthony Bowie
Author: Dr. Christina Counts
The jobs of the future are much different from what students experience in the classroom on a daily basis. Technology will change and become more complex, working in the office will be a completely different experience after COVID-19, and students will have to be adaptable to an ever-changing corporate world. With this in mind, it’s important to design learning spaces that help prepare today’s students for their futures.
In a post-pandemic corporate world, there’s a high likelihood that guidelines around social distancing and physically visiting the office will continue indefinitely, at least during peak seasons. This means that many students who are learning in classrooms today will likely experience remote working at some point in college or their future careers.
To help prepare students to be self-guided learners and workers, it’s important to create spaces in the classroom where they can be creative and work without specific instructions. Creating a makerspace in your classroom or school is a great way to give students an unstructured place to learn, therefore empowering them to take the lead with their own learning. Makerspaces with the right tools and technology also offer students valuable life skills and the ability to experiment within multiple fields before they choose a career path.
It can be a challenge to accept technology in all of its forms within your classroom, especially when students get distracted with personal matters or games on their devices. However, now is the time to help students create a healthy work-life balance with their personal devices so they can be productive and distraction-free when they start college and their careers.
Creating a tech-friendly classroom also means offering the right infrastructure to accommodate personal devices, including areas where students can charge their devices while they work. Students also benefit from work surfaces that allow them to use a device––such as a laptop––while simultaneously spreading out with a notebook or textbook.
The modern office offers many options for setting up your workspace––from collaborative tables to quiet cubicles to couches and more. It’s important to design your current classroom with this in mind in order to prepare students to enter a flexible workspace in the future. Students benefit from alternative seating and workspace options, as variety helps to keep them engaged and energized throughout the day.
Some of the best furniture options for flexible but functional classrooms include rolling and adjustable-height chairs, modular desks and multipurpose work surfaces, and soft seating. Floor space can even be utilized to allow students to stretch, spread out, or stand while they learn and work.
Creating the right learning spaces is an important step in building future-ready students. Flexible spaces, unstructured learning, and technology integration will help to prepare today’s students to become successful in college and careers in the future.
Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Strategy and Development for MiEN Environments,is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces to modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space. She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!