Present-day students arrive in today’s classroom with higher expectations, and yesterday’s classroom furnishings and configuration often don’t fulfill those needs. For students raised in the Internet age, learning is a much more visual and interactive experience. Rows of desks facing a single lecturer are not completely obsolete. However, that conventional arrangement is now just one alternative on a list of options for today’s classroom.
While the priorities vary from school to school and even from classroom to classroom, the must-haves can be narrowed down to a few specifics. Here are three elements most experts would consider indispensable in configuring today’s classroom.
- Flexibility - The arrangement and purpose of a classroom must not be locked into any one particular teaching method. Classrooms must be able to readily shift among different learning modalities. Consideration should be given to supporting learning styles, as they vary among age and origin. Ample writing surfaces such as whiteboards and mounting surfaces such as corkboard permit teachers the flexibility to vary the delivery of information according to the day-to-day needs of the curriculum.
- Furnish for active learning - Old-school furnishings don’t adapt well to the 21st-century classroom. The collaborative environment most teachers strive to establish may be hamstrung by clunky desks and tables that cannot be readily rearranged. Classroom furniture should be low maintenance, light and adjustable to different heights and uses.
- Integrated technology - Today’s students arrive in the classroom often several steps ahead of the teacher and the facility in terms of knowledge and experience with technology. The challenge to educators is to narrow that gap and utilize technology that presents content and the learning experience in a way that engages even the most experienced. Technology that allows transitions from a standard lecture format enhanced by audiovisual presentations to a collaborative discussion experience to individual computer or Internet study maintains students' interest levels and attention spans.
Nova Solutions has been incorporating technology and advanced teaching methods into its line of educational furniture since 1988. Call us for more guidelines about designing facilities and furnishings for today’s classroom.