Learning Anyplace, Anytime in Student Centered Spaces!
- September 30, 2021
- Anthony Bowie
Learning spaces are moving beyond the four walls of the traditional classroom to take advantage of every opportunity for student-centered learning spaces in K-12 and higher education. As curriculum and instructional delivery models adapt, so does the design of the spaces needed to support learning.
Here are 3 concepts and design suggestions of space utilization that can broaden the reach of a traditional classroom setting.
Stairs can be multifunctional for transporting people and for learning! Learning on the stairs has provided an innovative approach to create an area for informal learning, socializing, community and collaboration. The stairs also provide a great spot for teaching and an amphitheater style setting for presentations and performances. Alongside traditional stairs, learning stair designs have transformed to wide seats with cushions for comfort and even electrical outlets for charging technology. Learning stairs can become a hub of the school with learning on display and an area that builds community.
Learning commons are spaces that can be utilized by the entire school community and located at the front of the school, on various wings, or outside the library. The design of corridors and walkways are even being widened to offer an opportunity to become extensions for learning spaces multiplying the space utilization. The open areas provide transparency for visual monitoring and safety. Common areas promote social interaction, collaboration, areas for small group instruction, and lounge areas for students to study. Versatile furniture allows the space to be flexible for students to connect to their devices, utilize whiteboards for visual thinking, and shift modular furniture that is easily reconfigurable.
The Ignite Institute career-based high school in Kentucky designed flexible learning spaces which included Learning Commons. The commons space connects to multipurpose rooms and breakout areas with writable surfaces to encourage collaboration and study. Focused on providing education and experience in career fields, Boone County Schools’ Ignite Institute is creating a reality where industry and education work together to ensure that students have the skills and creativity to succeed in a fast-paced, technology-driven society. Through project-based learning, students have authentic, real-world experiences that prepare them for the jobs of the future. This innovative educational approach requires unique physical space that includes flexible spaces, furniture, and fixtures.
Typical, single-use rooms like cafeterias are being designed to function as hybrid theaters, lounge areas, makerspaces, and social gathering places for collaboration and creativity. With the right mix of furniture and design, the cafeteria can become a space for informal learning, as well as food service, to maximize space utilization. Cafeterias are transforming to mimic the integration of work and relaxation space that is so common in today’s start-ups and cutting-edge technology companies.