21st century learning necessitates traditional classroom design upgrade

Dive Brief:

  • The traditional educational paradigm of simple knowledge transfer from teacher to students is no longer applicable to a modern day emphasis on creative learning, which means that old models for classroom design are outdated and ineffective, education experts Eric C. Sheninger and Thomas C. Murray write in their new book "Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today." 
  • The authors suggest instructors update their classroom setting design in several ways that emphasize learning centered spaces, collaboration, self-directed learning, inquiry, exploration and creation, active learning, and relationship building, according to Edutopia's published excerpt from the book. 
  • Many schools nationwide, such as in Illinois, have already started to redesign classroom settings, both with technology and actual infrastructure, in a drive toward "School 2.0" and have been seeing positive change in their students' educational attainment. 

Dive Insight:

Increasingly, administrators and instructors are looking toward classroom design as they consider ways of enhancing student learning outcomes. Sheninger and Murray, experts in the education field, say that reconstructing the classroom to reflect 21st century creative learning and flexibility is not only important, but also absolutely necessary for effective student engagement.

Classrooms that are sticking to traditional settings of neatly lined desks and chairs suffer from what the authors coin as the "Cemetery Effect"  an environment where students are being taught as if they are going to work in industrial era factories. This type of learning can no longer work in the modern era, they say, and schools can enhance the setting by adopting a model that is "learner-centered, is personalized, and leverages the power of technology." 

Some ways that educators have tried to adapt to modern day learning goals include making sure that, in addition to integrating technology into lessons, they create a classroom space that is well-lit and promotes personalization, has interesting furniture placement that demonstrates flexibility and choice, and allows students to choose whether they'd like to sit or stand while working. Beyond enhancing immediate learning, administrators are also realizing that less rigid learning environments are more conducive to collaboration and more effectively prepare students to enter an increasingly creative and diverse workforce. 

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Filed Under: K12