Rethinking Learning Spaces: [Digital Learning Pilot Field Journal Reflection]

Rethinking Learning Spaces: [Digital Learning Pilot Field Journal Reflection]

Education needs to elevate learning spaces to the same level of discussion on learning as assessment, curriculum, and instruction. This often leads far away glances, but I value deeply what learning spaces mean to schools.

Listen, I get that on the surface learning spaces seem like a luxury or smaller reason given the great breadth of educational focus points. However, I’m convinced that powerful learning spaces will not only make a tremendous difference in schools but the topic is not an option when talking about 1:1, BYOD, or anything in between.

Our digital learning pilot is a great example of how traditional classroom spaces are not constructed to maximize this shift in learning.

Traditional Desks

Heck, these aren’t even constructed for efficiency in ways that make sense ergonomically especially in this new environment.

And the reality is that I’ve seen this in nearly every visit made to other schools shifting towards this learning environment. While I don’t know the extent to which these schools discussed learning spaces as part of these shifts, it is critical to make sure they are part of the total cost of ownership and learning vision discussion.

Even Small Steps Make a Difference

Designing learning spaces is a powerful process that deepens an organization’s beliefs and directions with learning. And while I advocate for that deep process, there are small changes make a difference in the environment where laptop and tablet devices are the norm.

Here are just a few small steps that would help the process.

1. Get rid of the traditional desks

The traditional desks are not conducive to laptops or tablets nor the shifts in learning that one would expect with a device-enabled, browser-centric environment.

Consider: flexible and agile tables

Flexible Tables

 2. Redesign layout 

The traditional 6×5 classroom doesn’t support this type of learning environment. It is important to provide room for movement, for diverse learning arrangements, and proximity. The front of the classroom, rows of desks make it difficult to reconfigure, move around, and connect. It is also difficult to assist with strategies for addressing distraction.

Consider: spacing, clusters, and multiple designs based upon learning focus.

3. Remove clutter and Repurpose 

Clutter! In classrooms where students have devices no longer need a number of items scattered across the room. This is difficult but consider what resources in class are no longer as needed given the devices in the room. EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS! And while doing this, notice the various surfaces that are in the room that offer nothing for learning: walls, floors, ceilings, doors, and my favorite, windows.

Consider: look at surfaces that aren’t being used for learning and consider repurposing (e.g. IDEA paint on walls, Clear IDEA paint on tables, display monitors on walls for stations, window markers for problems, etc). Also, evaluate and room items in the room.

Nothing Revolutionary

These are not revolutionary but they are no less important. Even in our pilot, a shift away from desks to tables brought a difference feel to the room.  It is time to provide the Habitats that will foster the desired Habits, and these little steps make a difference.

Image: Parker Vacumatic, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from classblog’s photostream


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