We are often challenged to interpret how a building truly supports 21st century learning. ACI Boland believes flexibility is part of the solution. Approaches to flexibility include lightweight furniture that can be easily relocated or grouped into ad hoc meeting spaces (or forts), movable walls that allow for team-teaching, and breakout/collaboration spaces outside of classrooms. These flexible solutions allow students to work together quickly on team-based projects or peer-based group learning.
An often-overlooked benefit of designing flexible learning spaces is the option to utilize environments for various uses throughout the day. This means taking opportunities to equip and engage building corridors, cafeterias, maker spaces, and the media center so they aren’t restricted to one role. Instead, they are available in multiple capacities for teaching and learning by providing the ability to morph into something else quickly, creatively, and easily such as an impromptu performance space or spontaneous group reading space.
- Appropriate acoustics are critical to successful learning and even more important in collaboration areas
MULTIPLE LEVELS OF ENGAGEMENT
- A hierarchy of engaging places allows students to find their “comfort place” since all children learn differently
- Hard floors, writable walls, flexible furniture, tons of storage, and messes are all trademarks of successful project-based learning. We see these types of spaces in innovation labs, art rooms, robotics labs and maker spaces, and more recently in media centers as the lines start to blur across disciplines
- Innovation happens in the spaces between planned spaces, meaning we don’t know what kids will dream up so we have to create spaces that are loose enough to allow that exploration to happen
- Robotics labs and maker spaces have more defined programs but still require a loose-based approach for success