Why Designing Better Learning Spaces is Essential to Success

Contributed By

Dylan Rodgers

Content Strategy Manager and Editor in Chief of the Schoology Exchange

Why Designing Better Learning Spaces is Essential to Success

Posted in Evolving Ed | February 12, 2015

When you look at the image above, what do you see? It's a classroom, of course, but you already knew that. What if I told you that this is a classroom where William Shakespeare studied in the 16th century?

Let that sink in for a second—classroom design has remained virtually unchanged since the 1500s. That's not to say this classic design doesn't have its benefits. It does. You and I are products of this learning environment, and we're pretty awesome, right?

Classroom design is, however, a major factor in how students learn—an estimated 25% impact on learning rates—demanding, if nothing else, that it be a serious consideration.

The What, How, and Where of Student Learning

Conversations in education often circle around curriculum, data, devices, and many other important considerations. But have you thought about your learning space lately? Bob Schuetz has, and he's chronicled his district's exploration of modern learning spaces in a fantastic blog post.

In it he writes:

"Teachers and students are realizing that many aspects of the traditional classroom 'container' no longer provide the 'flexibility, agility, and adaptability' offered in digital learning spaces. Are we designing and creating future-ready environments supportive of personal, connected learning?"

Even though digital learning spaces tend to have more inherent flexibility, I'd argue that their design is just as influential as it is with physical spaces.

4 Considerations When Shaping Learning Environments on Schoology

Step one, according to David Jakes, a highly respected thought leader, "The first step in redesigning the classroom is to discard the notion that it has to be a classroom." Now that you've got that in mind, use these four ideas just to get your wheels turning:

Create Open Forum Discussions

If you created a discussion on Schoology, didn't grade it, and didn't lock it, then students can continue to explore new ideas and watch each other's grow over time. Who knows, you may discover a whole new side to your lessons.

Use Grading Groups as Pods

They're more than just a way to break your class into smaller groups. Imagine Grading Groups as pods where you can strategically group students based on any number of factors, just as you might design your seating chart.

Turn Folders into Learning Stations

What if the folders in your courses reflected the different learning stations in your physical classroomгone for reading, one for game-based learning, one for open conversation, etc? Students will not only find it easy to navigate, but they may also reveal their interests and strengths.

Use Groups as Equalizers

Creating groups for your students simplifies cross-curricular learning, extends lessons beyond the standard curriculum, and, most importantly, removes the student-teacher hierarchy to facilitate student-driven collaboration and creativity in an easily moderated space.

Just remember your group settings:

* * *

What do your learning spaces look like? Share your best practices with the community below.


Header image from the Coventry Telegraph
Small groups image by GlobalPartnership for Education
Learning stations image by Jisc InfoNet
Collaboration image by AJC1

Join the Conversation