The field of education is changing rapidly. The traditional static lecture is no longer the preferred method to impart information. Instead, instructors are moving toward a teaching style that encourages students to collaborate and work in teams because that is how many employers expect their employees to accomplish tasks. A classroom needs to be set up in a way to accommodate this new type of teaching and learning . Whether you are building a new school or renovating some rooms, classroom design matters. Here are some design tips to help you facilitate collaborative experiences for students.
Talk to Faculty
In order to design something that works for teachers, the first step is to talk to them. Find out what they would love to have in their room as well as what absolutely does not work or is not needed. Brainstorm with a small group of faculty members to come up with their wish list for a collaborative space. Things like huddle boards (a type of mobile whiteboard) and cameras with projection screens are just a few options that they might suggest.
After all, they are the ones who are going to use the space. How would they like to learn? You could create a task force and include members of student government or other groups to participate. Talk about the types of seating they prefer and what forms of technology they like to use the most.
When designing a space for collaborative learning, it needs to be flexible. You will want to use tables, not individual desks, so students can easily share ideas and work in small groups. Use tables with wheels so you can instantly rearrange the room and move tables according to the number of students in a group. Choose chairs that can be easily stacked and stored. Use dry erase boards that are perched on mobile stands that can be rolled away or turned around.
Use Many Screens
It’s time to get away from the idea that there is blackboard at the front of the room. The room really has no fixed front when you have multiple screens and students gathered in teams. Put screens on walls, in pods, and in other places around the room. Multiple workstations will enable students to connect their laptops to the network. And don’t forget to put in plenty of outlets. If you want students to take notes on their laptops, they need to be able to plug in when the battery dies.
When you have students working in teams, you will have noise. For best acoustics, you should install carpet. Another option in places with high ceilings is to hang sound baffles. They absorb sound instead of letting it echo. Moveable walls and partitions are useful to keep the noise level more bearable.
Help educators to be successful by showing them the new space well before the first day of class. Give them time to get used to the new collaborative space and allow them to adjust their lesson plans accordingly. Explain how to use the document cameras and projection screens. Show them new ways to display their student’s work. When people have time to get comfortable using the new technology it will increase their confidence in front of students who use emerging technology every day.
Educational Furniture from Edwards and Hill
Need help designing your next collaborative classroom? Edwards & Hill can help you plan and install the perfect furniture for your space. Edwards & Hill is a leading office, education, medical, and hospitality furniture provider with quality design and installation services for any style or scale. When you are ready to get started, call us at 301-317-4250 to talk with a professional.