Discovering the structure of DNA, performing the first organ transplant, inventing the internet and paying $0.23/gallon for petrol all have something in common. These historical events occurred between 1950 and 1969, as did the construction of 45 percent of public schools.
Texas Instruments created the first handheld calculator in 1967, which is now found on nearly every smartphone. With computers, learning apps and the ability to learn from anywhere, today’s students are tech-savvy. Technology is constantly evolving and it has thrown established educational frameworks into disarray.
The Great Revitalization
A lot has changed, but a lot has remained the same in educational settings—until now.
Educational environments are transforming all across the world. In Australia, 25 percent of classrooms are no longer classified as traditional spaces. There is a rising movement to design schools to create environments that promote creativity, energy and hands-on learning with learners and teachers in mind.
What Are Flexible Learning Spaces?
We think of schools as places where we go to learn. However, the pandemic revealed that learning does not require students to sit in rows of desks. We now realize that it’s not just about what you learn, but also how you learn. Flexible learning spaces are environments that are welcoming, responsive and engaging. A flexible learning space, by definition, allows for a wide range of teaching methods and learning experiences.
The Characteristics of a Flexible Learning Space
Flexible learning spaces make use of customizable furniture and equipment that teachers and students can rearrange and modify daily to meet their individual learning needs. In more schools, all spaces are transforming into learning spaces. A common area today could be transformed into an activity space tomorrow.
In a flexible learning environment, you’ll find:
- The removal of built-in cabinetry in favor of moveable storage
- Collaborative work areas with soft seating
- Mobile power stations
- A comfortable, relaxed learning space
- A design that incorporates and supports technology
- Stackable, highly versatile seating
- Furniture encouraging flow and adaptability
- Teachers with increased engagement and mobility
- Students are moving about and rearranging their surroundings
- Configurations that continuously change
- A gymnasium transformed into a variety of learning environments
- An area that is favorable to both teachers and students
- The correct balance of design and functionality
- Flexible layouts of office furniture and office chairsin conference areas
- An environment fostering one-on-one, small-group and large-group interactions
Ten Examples of Flexible Learning Spaces in Action
- Lounge areas
- Study rooms
- Creative spaces
- Faculty spaces
- Common areas
- Meeting rooms
Five Benefits of Flexible Learning Spaces
To boost academic outcomes, many schools worldwide are replacing traditional classrooms with innovative, flexible learning environments. Numerous studies prove that not only are these settings beneficial, but they also improve outcomes for teachers and students.
- Flexible furniture contributes to a more engaging and active learning environment in the classroom. Collaboration, communication and creativity are enhancedwhen students and teachers are able to move around.
- These spaces contribute to the development of stronger relationships and communication among classmates—promoting teamwork, which improves engagement and mood.
- Flexible work environments thrive in the workplace, allowing employees to interact with colleagues to sharpen the qualities required for success. Students will detect these surroundings when they enter the workplace andfeel comfortable actively participating in their work.
- Being in a comfortable setting that encourages active learning can improve the ability and willingness to learn.As a result of this experience, students’ grades improve.
- Teachers can be more engaging and hands-on because they are no longer confined to a corner workstation. They share the same mobile-friendly environment as students, which improves education and awareness of what is happening in the classroom.
Our Flexible Future: Out-Of-The-Box Learning
For students, it’s not easy to spend their entire school day at a separate, confined workstation that doesn’t facilitate creativity and movement. It’s also unsuitable for learning.
You can’t just throw furniture into a room and call it a flexible learning environment. Adaptable furniture indeed enhances the setting, but other components must be in place too.
To understand the evolution of flexible learning spaces, we can look at contemporary workplaces. Today’s employees have demonstrated that conducting business does not require the use of a typical office in a corporate building. Employees can use a nearby coffee shop, library, coworking space and other resources in addition to the company-provided areas.
Historically, a premium was placed on test scores and learning standards while neglecting the learning environment. Despite this, classrooms and other learning spaces in schools can have a substantial impact on student achievement. Teachers and students benefit greatly from flexible learning spaces. Society has changed the way we work. We’re ready to change the opinions and approaches of how we learn, too.