Magazine article Technology & Learning

How Classroom Design, Technology, and Furniture Can Enhance Student Learning

Magazine article Technology & Learning

How Classroom Design, Technology, and Furniture Can Enhance Student Learning

Article excerpt

At a CTO summit this summer, I joined a group of educators discussing the effect of spatial design and furniture selection on learning. Some expressed frustration that attempts to influence learning through changes to spaces and furniture have not always met with success. One tech director described how his district's new, flexible furniture was arranged in the same uniform rows as the old table-arm desks.

Maureen Miller, the discussion facilitator from Winnetka (IL) School District 39, shared how her district has encouraged students and teachers to innovate and modify their spaces.

The district gave design grants for teachers to implement improvements like flexible furniture and marker boards on horizontal rails, making existing spaces more adaptable.

From my own experience of being the building committee co-chair for a complete high-school renovation (in addition to my role as district CIO) at a past district, I knew the key role that spatial design plays in supporting instructional practice.

CREATING PROTOTYPICAL CLASSROOMS

As the building design team grappled with the possibilities for technology, furniture, and spatial layout of classrooms, we decided to create prototypical classrooms. Teachers could sign up to use the prototypical classrooms, have their classes experiment with audio-visual technology, and try out student desks, chairs, and teacher furniture. They could also check out a breakout room for small-group discussion.

Student and teacher feedback influenced the selection of furniture and also helped the design team to refine the materials for classrooms. Ultimately they settled on full-height marker surfaces on two walls and a tackable surface on a third wall. When I toured the renovated high school, I saw students working individually and in groups, in breakout rooms, in hallways, and throughout the classrooms. …

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