How can you hack your learning space on a budget?

The basic elements of an active learning classroom are conventional, there is no one-size-fits all. All school designs are really based on the alumni of the school. To a large extent the brand or the voice of the school plays a key role in spatial design. To achieve the custom fit your school needs, the architects really need to understand the core values and the stakeholders to come up with a unique design for your school.

So how can you innovate your learning space on a budget??

Here are some tips for the 21st century classroom:

Don’t avoid ugly rooms

The advantages of using old/ugly rooms are that the wiring does not need to change which would cut costs on the budget for schools and universities.

“A shift in curriculum to a team-based active learning approach at Bryant University (RI) cried out for a new kind of classroom, so the institution set up the Ideation Lab, a 24- to 32-student space where every surface is writable, the furniture is modular and,it’s a great place to teach.Usage is in excess of 90 percent.”  – Robert Shea, Associate vice president for teaching and learning, Bryant University

Involve students in the design process

Having your students in the design process not only focuses on the stakeholders you are designing the spaces for, but will also build a sense of community within the learning space.

Think about student experiences not furniture

Ask yourself these questions

  1. Is the design for the room or is it for the students involved?
  2. What is the plan for your educators and the development of their curriculum in these learning spaces?
  3. How will you measure the success of your learning spaces?

It is great to go all in and spend the big bucks to transform the whole space into an innovative one. But how will you know if this worked for you? Well it is a good step to start with one or two rooms, maybe the library or a classroom and test the learning space before going all in.

Avoid groupthink and solely focus on your space

Forbes explains that groupthink is when a team or organization becomes so set in their ways that they lose the ability to be creative in their decision-making.

Redesigned spaces also should cater to your school’s needs, so copying another learning space may not give your school the desired results.

Space Vocabulary

This vocabulary must be shared among all classroom stakeholders:

  • Flexible: The space can be reshaped.
  • Agile: The space can be reshaped quickly.
  • Intentional: The space is designed to support the student learning experience.
  • Adaptive: The space adapts to changes in the expectations of the student learning experience.
  • Technological: The space supports a variety of technologies.
  • Interconnected: The physical and digital spaces for learning are connected (Edtech)

Let go of traditional teacher spaces

The average teacher space takes upto 25% of the classroom. Which makes it look more like a clutter. Integrate better technologies and move all the clutter into the cloud, so cloud sharing between alumni can be facilitated. The dreaded file cabinet is not going to work in your modern workspace anyway.