It’s no secret that students have evolved into tech savvy, connected individuals who work best in an engaged, participatory learning environment. They have been born into the digital age and are entering school with a heightened digital acumen. The sheer scale of Bett in terms of participation and reputation is testament to the importance placed on technology in schools and the impact it can have on the lives of today’s students and teachers.
In sharp contrast to these millennial students, extensive observations and research shows that while education, students and technology have changed, the classroom environment of fixed, row-by-column furniture that faces one direction has remained the same. It brings to the surface one of the biggest challenges facing educators today: how can technology, teaching methods and space more effectively support them in improving student success?
It is only by engaging with pupils and creating an environment that fuses together pedagogy, technology and space, that learning and engagement can truly be optimised. Teachers and teaching methods are diverse and evolving. Classes today employ lecture mode, group mode, group setups and individual work. From one class to the next, sometimes during the class period, classrooms need to change. Thus, the classroom should easily and quickly adapt to different teaching and learning preferences. Unfortunately, many of today’s classrooms don’t allow for this adaptation of teaching modes.
The majority of classrooms in use today were built for traditional, “chalk and talk” pedagogies and passive learning, not for today’s active learning approaches. Inflexible layouts and furniture with limited mobility hamper interaction among students, instructors and content. Technology access is also highly variable and often poorly integrated.
Flexibility is key to overcoming the challenge. Classrooms should incorporate flexible furniture to support these shifts and allow access to the technologies in the room, regardless of the classroom’s configuration and learning mode. Technology and furnishings can work together to support the progressive pedagogies being used and enhance the exchange of ideas at a more effective pace. Providing flexibility will support a more holistic “active learning ecosystem.” Sean Corcorran is General Manager at Steelcase Education Solutions.
By Sean Corcorran, General Manager, Steelcase Education Solutions