The Current Learning Space
In my current classroom, the desks are arranged so that they face one another with long rows along both sides of the walls and one row positioned in the middle of the room. The computer monitors are hidden inside an area at the top of the desk and when they are opened, the person directly across is blocked from view. The current lighting in the room uses old type fluorescent lighting.
The instructor’s station is located at the front corner of the room and is positioned next to a large pull-down screen and when expanded, 70% of the large whiteboard on the wall is covered leaving only 30% along the side for writing. The video projector equipment is mounted on the ceiling but when powered on, the bright light shines into the instructor’s eyes making it necessary to stand off to the corner when lecturing and presenting to the class.
Restructuring the Learning Space
Learners come into a classroom and on any given day may use chairs, desks, tablets, browse the web, use computer software, etc., all these things are part of their experience whether it’s an object or a service. In the video on Experience Design, Tedde van Gelderen describes an experience as “a holistic view of how people go through a set of events as they are in time.”
How does a learning space affect the way people learn and their overall experience? A study that was conducted during the 2011-12 academic year that included seven primary schools in England, collected performance data on 751 students. The study ranked classrooms “for 10 different design parameters: light, sound, temperature, air quality, choice, flexibility, connection, complexity, color, and texture.” (Vanhemert, 2014) The findings revealed that color, choice, complexity, flexibility, connection, and light did indeed have a significant effect on learning within the classroom.
The notion of personalized learning where each learner has unique needs and learns in different ways can also be incorporated into the space in which they learn. A learning space and experience that is more personal, promotes enhanced learning, engagement, and creativity! As Sir Ken Robinson told CBS News in an interview, “Schools need to make education more personalized. Because everyone is different, they learn in ways that need to be individually addressed.” (Svokos, 2015)
The Re-imagined Learning Space
“A lot of people are talking about communication and collaboration but their spaces aren’t speaking collaboration.” (Edutopia, 2013)
I imagined a learning space designed to be more conducive to collaborative group work, idea sharing, and more student-centered (personalized) and driven. The design takes into consideration a BYOD (bring your own device) environment along with supplied devices (tablets) with keyboards and mice that are stored within the classroom, whiteboards lining the walls, and a large monitor located in the front and along the sides of the room.
NOTE: The back wall and door are not present in my design in order to provide a better view of the interior learning space.
The walls are painted using neutral color tones with additional color incorporated into the classroom through the use of furniture, “yellow furniture to elicit feelings of liveliness, energy, happiness and excitement. Red and orange in small quantities can also demand attention and attract learners’ attention to detail – a great way to lead students to a certain part of the room for an engaging activity.” (Smith Systems, n.d., para 11)
The furniture within the room will include ergonomically designed chairs on wheels for easy movement and comfort, two comfortable lounge chairs, colored chairs on wheels, round tables on wheels that seat 4-5 students, tall standing tables, small storage cabinets, and a standing instructor station on wheels. The furniture design will promote mobility throughout the classroom allowing for group work and collaboration.
Lighting options will include dimmable lighting and small round windows near the ceiling that will allow outside light into the room. “Lighting influences concentration, mood and interaction. Lighting controls allow the teacher and student to select lighting that suits the learning style of the moment.” (Thorn Lighting, 2009)
Necessary Resources for Implementation, Timeline, & Funding
Fortunately the building that I work in at the college will be renovated this year and the whiteboards, new furniture, monitors (fully implemented during the second stage of renovations), and new lighting are all included as part of the renovation expenses making implementing portions of this vision very feasible. The tablets have already been purchased and are currently available for student use. The small, round windows that are part of my vision, may not be feasible depending on the room location within the building. If additional equipment is needed to implement my vision outside the scope of the renovation, it can be requested through Perkins funding available through the college. Funding requests are presented to the advisory board in the Fall and Spring of each calendar year for approval.
The timeline for the building renovation is from May – December (2016). The new building will open to the students and public at the start of the Winter 2017 semester in January. The community, faculty, and students will all benefit from the renovation and the newly designed rooms. The learners will have a more personalized, updated classroom environment that will allow for more collaboration and the use of 21st century technologies with the intention of also promoting student engagement.
Edutopia. (2013, March). Remake Your Class (Trailer) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXjEcnaYAmc#t=54
Smith System. Colors in the Classroom Learning Environment – Color Your World. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://smithsystem.com/resource-library/article-library/color-world/
Svokos, A. (2015, April 22). Sir Ken Robinson on What Makes An Effective School. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/22/ken-robinson-personalized-education_n_7121700.html
Thorn Lighting. Applications in Focus Light for Education. (2009, September.). Retrieved from http://www.thornlighting.com/holding/microsites/education_microsite/Main_ED_brochure.pdf
Vanhemert, K. (2014, January 18). Study Show How Classroom Design Affects Student Learning. Retrieved from http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671627/study-shows-how-classroom-design-affects-student-learning