How Can We Rethink Classroom Design?
This classroom studies chemicals on phenolic worksurfaces and raises the hydraulic-equipped tables to standing height to keep the
This classroom studies chemicals on phenolic worksurfaces and raises the hydraulic-equipped tables to standing height to keep the students engaged.
Classroom Design is Undergoing Major Change to Get the Most Benefit From New Education Technology
If you could build a new school from scratch, would you follow a traditional classroom design layout or would you opt for something completely new?
The rural school district in Eminence, Kentucky faced a choice. Their school district was failing and the small town was declining along with it. Superintendent Buddy Berry, a 4th generation alum of the school, sought to make a radical change: he led the effort to engage his students in building a brand new facility that would focus on personalized learning and help students prepare for college.
The small, lower-income community elected to raise its own property taxes to fund the $6 million dollars needed for the new school. But their investment in the future is already paying dividends. Rather than shrinking, enrollment in the school has doubled. Whereas only 20% of Eminence students went on to college before the new facility was built, now 99.5% of the students enrolled in the college prep studies are on track to graduate from university.
What is Blended Learning and How is it Changing Classroom Design?
There's a lot to unpack in the Eminence EDUhub video above.
For example, while many leading schools or libraries are thrilled to have one Makerspace at their facility, the Eminence school has eight separate Makerspace labs, including a robotics lab, a bio lab, a design thinking lab, TV production studio lab, and a tool shop lab.
Makerspaces promote hands-on learning by allowing students to learn about current technology by creating projects that reinforce STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills that they are learning in school. These projects, which can range from building Internet of Things-powered robots to more traditional woodshop and sewing projects, are often organized by the students themselves.
Formaspace created these flexible, custom modular desks for the makerspace at the Arizona Science Center. Makerspaces have become a key element of modern classroom design.
This brings us to the classroom design layouts at Eminence. What's different there?
Like many new schools, their classrooms are designed for maximum flexibility. Not only can the furniture be moved around easily, so can the wall divider units, making it easy to create layouts for specific functions, such as student group projects or classroom presentations. Compared to traditional classrooms with all the desks lined in a row facing the teacher, it looks more like the interior of the latest Silicon Valley startup rather than a primary or secondary school classroom.
What's the reason for the shift in classroom design after all these years?
The answer is there is a revolution going on in education right now.
It's driven by a desire to take advantage of new technology to help the students learn on their own or by working in groups.
In this new philosophy, students learn by working together with other students on group projects, as well as spend time outside the classroom learning new material. Teachers no longer spend all their time giving lectures to students; instead, they use their time in the classroom to facilitate student projects, answer questions, and assess each student's progress, often by receiving individual and group presentations from students.
This new approach goes by a lot of different names:
• Personalized Learning
• Integrative/Integrated Learning
• Blended Learning
• Flipped Classrooms
In this article, we'll use the term blended learning to describe this new educational approach.
Now a little history. Where did blended learning come from?
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