While many schools have tried remote and hybrid learning models over the past year, it seems most likely that education will remain classroom-based wherever possible. In fact, the Promethean State of Technology in Education Report 2021 recently revealed that the majority of teachers think students learn best in the classroom. This means that classroom design remains as important as ever – and can even affect students’ academic progress. In this blog, we’re going to explore how new pedagogical approaches might shape the classrooms of the future.
Flexible learning spaces
The classroom’s ability to adapt to the changing needs of students and teachers is essential. This represents a notable shift from the fixed design classrooms of the past which featured rows of desks facing a chalkboard. There’s an opportunity for more flexible classrooms with a range of spaces for individual focus, group collaboration and different teaching techniques.
Classrooms could also better facilitate project-based learning, featuring areas designed for a range of activities: wet zones and messy areas, long-term workshop spaces, and exhibit walls where students can present work to their peers.
Another option for customisation is flexible walls – sliding screens, clear partitions and other dividers can allow for multiple classroom configurations in a single day, splitting the classroom into more appropriate spaces for each activity. Ultimately, more flexibility in classroom layout will enable teachers to craft the learning space to each and every experience.
Traditionally, classrooms have offered the same seating throughout the room – but there are benefits to mixing up the seating options.
For example, schools could try:
- Chairs with wheels
- Soft seating and bean bags
- Yoga ball seating
- Carpets suitable for floor seating
- Chairs and stools with adjustable heights
- Curved ‘huddle seating’ designed to encourage collaboration
By offering different seating, students can choose what they feel most comfortable using whether they are writing, participating in a group discussion, or just thinking. This can also improve inclusivity, giving smaller students the chance to use taller chairs without being singled out.
Today’s most commonly used classroom technologies did not exist when classroom design was becoming standardised around 200 years ago – so rather than just fitting them in, why not design classrooms around these integral teaching and learning devices?
Here are a few ideas:
- Individual devices like laptops and tablets are now more common, which may reduce the focus on a singular display at the front of the class.
- Where budget is available, it may be effective to position multiple interactive displays, such as the ActivPanel, in a single classroom. This can make it easier for students to view the screen from anywhere in the room.
- Audio systems and cameras might now be placed in the classroom to support hybrid learning models, and it’s important to spread them around to ensure even coverage.
- Although augmented- and virtual-reality equipment isn’t widespread yet, schools in the future may need to think about incorporating open spaces which enable safe usage of headsets.
These ideas barely scratch the surface of classroom design, and there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach. We can’t say for sure what classrooms of the future will look like, but there are clear opportunities to maximise new technologies and teaching methods.
For more inspiration on classroom design, you can read our blog on Designing rounded classrooms.