Looking for that nudge toward making your classroom more collaborative and creative? A modern learning environment, which allows teachers to manipulate the classroom for any need and think beyond just “typical chairs in rows,” could be the key to making any space the right space for innovative thinking, says David Andrade, a K–12 education strategist at CDW-G.
“Once you’ve changed what’s in the classroom itself, you can change what you’re doing with the students and really provide them with wonderful experiences — creative, explorative and collaborative,” says Andrade.
Flexible Learning Spaces Encourage Collaboration and Creativity
Looking for a place for students to work collectively on a project? A Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and makerspace table could be just the ticket. The larger-than-normal table gives students enough room to stand around it in groups, and the movable storage units make it possible to take elements of projects elsewhere, while also keeping the classroom organized.
Even desks can be revamped. New desk designs that include whiteboard tops and charging stations can enable old-school brainstorming while making it easy to plug into new classroom devices, such as Chromebooks.
“It makes the classroom very flexible,” says Andrade.
“Huddle spaces,” or large tables with big displays, support group work and let students and teachers share digital content in a larger format.
Desk Designs Get Teachers Out into the Classroom
Even teachers can get in on the action. The old-school teacher’s desk may be a thing of the past as educators begin to adopt standing desks that can help to elevate energy levels and open up the classroom for other uses.
“Teacher’s desks and materials could take up to 30 percent of a classroom when they are only one out of 30 people in the room” says Andrade, adding that, to get rid of much of this wasted space, teacher’s desks are getting smaller and more creatively designed.
Moreover, the new designs can help get teachers out from behind the desks and in with the students.
“A lot of the emphasis is that the teachers shouldn’t be sitting at the desk. They should be out among the classroom working with the students,” says Andrade. He points out that many new designs enable wireless casting to multiple devices so that “there’s no reason for the teacher to be stuck behind the desk. They can move around, interact with the students, and [the desk] is just where they can go and sit when they need to.”
Overall, Andrade says, modern learning environments can change the entire atmosphere of a classroom.
“Most of the feedback we get is that the students are more engaged, they’re more energetic, they’re more enthusiastic when they come into the room because it doesn’t feel like a classroom,” he says. “They come in and it’s going to be a fun experience, they’re going to be working in groups, and what they’re learning tends to be retained longer.”