Trends in 21st Century Classroom Design
It is said that the some of the most valuable learning experiences occur outside of the classroom. While real-world experiences are undoubtedly critical for one’s development, could this well-known adage also stem from a century of ineffective classroom design? A growing number of educators are starting to think so. As technology transforms curriculum and facilitates teaching, it has become apparent that standard desks in neatly aligned rows are no longer sufficient to engender optimal outcomes for both students and teachers. Instead, educators are opting for flexible learning spaces that integrate technology, encourage connectivity and emphasize hands-on learning. As a result, the traditional classroom is undergoing some big changes – from the type of furniture, to tools, to layouts.
Traditional desks and chairs are being replaced by soft seating, ottomans and configurable tables. Portable furniture that stacks, folds and rolls is increasingly necessary. Tablets, Chromebooks and interactive displays are infiltrating classrooms across all grade levels. Some learning spaces are even furnished with makerspaces, or workstations equipped with 3D printers, craft and hardware supplies, electronics and more, to encourage tinkering and innovation. And while outfitting classrooms with new technology and furniture is crucial, the physical design of the room plays just as an important role. Schools are renovating and constructing new classrooms with brighter colors and larger windows, maximizing natural light.
Creating these new learning spaces comes at a price, and there’s no doubt that educational spending on capital outlays (facilities and hardware) has tightened in the last decade. However, after years of underinvestment, spending is anticipated to reverse as school districts launch initiatives to modernize classrooms. According to survey results, 53% percent of public schools in the U.S. need to spend money on repairs and renovations, and an estimated $197 billion would be needed to complete these modernizations. Even with renovations underway, much works remains to modernize public K-12 classrooms.
Like everything else, schools are adapting to the rapidly evolving, tech-driven world. Schools are breaking the traditional mold in favor of learning spaces that foster adaptability and creativity. The intended results are a profound impact on student engagement, and ultimately, student success and performance.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics