Today's students will enter a workforce with fewer cubicles and more collaboration space. Classroom design should be fashioned to reflect the real work world into which they will soon enter, eSchool News reports.
Beaver Country Day School in Newton, Massachusetts, recently completed a redesign that started with asking the students what they wanted. Administrators replaced rows of desks and chairs with flex-space furniture that allows for both individual and group learning.
Hallways are used as a classroom extension that allows students to meet in small groups. Students use meeting rooms along with the faculty. The flexible environment allows for creative collaboration, while still giving students an option to study alone.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, the days of assembly-line manufacturing jobs are coming to an end. Students will graduate into positions that require thought and collaboration. The cubicle office design is becoming extinct, which means straight lines of desks and chairs no longer meet the needs of students and teachers.
The best news is that this classroom rearrangement can be affordable. Incorporating features like color, soft light and comfortable spaces doesn’t have to be expensive. Using budget-friendly furniture manufacturers, such as Ikea, is one way to stretch the redesign budget as far as possible.
Meadowlark School in Colorado’s Boulder Valley District took this idea a step further, thanks to a 2014 bond issue. The media center is now a curiosity center, which children as young as pre-K go to different “learning studio” areas. And teachers now have collaboration space rather than desks.
Soon, inflexible desks won’t even be an option. With sales of the desk-chair combo decreasing, some educational furniture companies are planning to discontinue the model completely. Modern customers are seeking flexible furniture that encourages students to interact and develop peer-to-peer learning skills.
The Khan Lab School exemplifies these changes with spaces for students to work on laptops with friends or on comfy couches alone. Since fewer school supplies are needed, thanks to laptops and Chromebooks, a desk with a built-in cubby is almost obsolete. School supplies that are still needed can be grouped to share with the class. The school is filled with sections adorned with whiteboards where specialists can huddle with small groups. There are even small noise-canceling cubbies where students can work alone or with a teacher. This school of the future even features a teacher-friendly perk: free snacks in the faculty lounge.