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Learning Environments: Macro To Micro

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions. ―Sir Ken Robinson

Learning Environment ➡️ Learning Spaces ➡️ Micro Learning Spaces

Learning Environment

At D&D Integrated Solutions we listen to educators. As K-12 education moves forward in the 21st century we want to embrace Mr. Robinson’s vision to collaborate with schools “to put students in an environment where they want to learn.” We want our education clients to view us as a partner, not a vendor selling tables and chairs to a school from a catalog or online shopping cart.

In the big picture, a school is a holistic learning environment. Ideally, all the moving people and parts from students, parents, staff, programs, curriculum, grade levels, materials, resources, furniture and technology should all be coordinated together for student achievement and their well-being. Our philosophy as a furniture and technology systems integrator is to work with on-site and district staff to create solutions that help accomplish a school’s larger goals.

Learning Spaces

Traditionally:

  • a classroom is a place where students are taught.
  • a library is a place to research, read or study.
  • a lab is a place for hands-on learning activities.
  • a studio is a place where things or performances are created.

As 21st century learning and teaching practices embrace the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the pedagogical change from teacher-centered learning to student-centered learning is also changing the physical spaces at school. Here, the physical learning space itself plays a key role in our students mental and physical well-being and becomes embedded with a school’s overall social and emotional learning plans.

Traditional learning spaces designed with a singular purpose are transformed to multi-purpose learning spaces. This transformation from 20th-century to 21st-century learning spaces uses a new lexicon to describe the metamorphosis from –

  1. Classroom to Learning Studio
  2. Library to Learning Commons
  3. Lab to Makerspace

Micro Learning Spaces

Classrooms, libraries, and labs are the three most common learning spaces within any K-12 school. These spaces now take on a more eclectic function as all can become places for learning, collaboration, personal space, and active movement all contained within the same room.

Learning Studios

Learning Studio Example with flexible furniture

As classrooms become more mobile and modular spaces, we can start to take a fresh look at the whole space that is typically no more and often less than 960 square feet. The current terms of ‘flexible furniture’ and ‘agile space’ are floor-planned with a variety of small instructional groupings or ‘micro learning spaces’ within a classroom. Here is a transformation with a middle-school English class.

Learning Studio

Learning Commons

In libraries, we typically have more area space to work with and can craft larger groupings or ‘learning zones.’ Here is a transformation of a high school library to a “Quest Center.”

Makerspaces

Makerspace technical drawing

As many makerspaces are created using typical classrooms it’s taking the same concept of designing a variety of small instructional groupings or ‘micro making spaces’ within the room. Here’s a staff concept to transformation in repurposing a portable classroom at an elementary school, now called “The Makery.”

Makerspace in a school environment

In the 21st century, the term,” learning environment” has itself evolved from an emphasis on learning institutions and reform, to a more personalized emphasis toward student-centered learning and individual creativity within and around the buildings. As a company, it is our mission to help school districts craft a variety of learning spaces that enhances everyone’s sensory input, physical movement, and psychological well-being.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will dive deeper into the concepts presented here as we move from the macro big ideas to micro learning space solutions.

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