How Trends in Online Learning Are Changing Classroom Design
When you think of a classroom, you probably think of the traditional setup: rectangular desks with a chair facing the teacher and the chalkboard. It’s the kind of design that advocates for a lecture—a teacher delivers a lesson while the students listen and obtain significant knowledge.
But is that really how students learn best? New trends in digital learning show that the standard classroom setup is changing since students are proving to be more active learners. With many schools executing blended learning by integrating virtual technology into their curriculum, classroom designers have begun to reevaluate and modify their overall approach for a more optimal learning environment that better meets today’s student needs.
Why the change?
Here are a few things students gain from a less structured learning setting:
- Increased interaction with teachers and classmates
- More flexibility to identify the learning space that works best for them
- Reduced restlessness and sluggishness
- Greater opportunities for peer-to-peer work and mentoring
- Engaging course materials delivered by online educational technology
In a study on active learning spaces, Steelcase found that a more informal learning environment endorses a less passive and more active student—one who participates in the discussion or lesson instead of simply absorbing. Steelcase breaks down the core of active learning into three categories:
Utilizing a layout that can easily be changed from class to class in order to accommodate different teaching methods, including a lecture, individual work, or collaborative work.
The careful integration of technology to enliven the lesson or discussion by giving students more opportunities to display, share, and present classroom-related information.
Making use of a learning space that allows everyone to view the presented material and interact with peers.
What are the new trends?
The manner in which students are learning is evolving each day. According to research done by Educause on blended learning spaces, a large portion of learning takes place outside of a formal classroom. Here are a few trends in online learning that are affecting classroom design:
Sometimes, students learn best when they combine virtual and classroom learning. Nexus Academy students, for instance, spend half a day four days a week attending interactive classes with teachers and peers on campus, and an additional twelve hours completing online courses. This blended learning environment not only provides flexibility, but also keeps students engaged, focused, and motivated. It’s easy to lose the attention of students when they are confined to a desk.
Many schools are changing their classroom layout to allow for more group work. Teachers are great supportive resources for students; however, learning often happens through peer-to-peer interaction as well. Group work can really help to stimulate the brain by challenging students to collaborate and support their peers, just as they may find themselves doing in college or the workplace. Sometimes, students find that feedback from their peers helps them to understand certain concepts in a different or clearer way.
It’s a fact—advanced technology has become a significant tool in our everyday lives. Instead of opting for a piece of paper and pen, students want to take out their laptops, because it’s a device that they have become comfortable with. Providing sufficient electrical outlets in classrooms allows the use of various digital means in a careful and appropriate manner that goes hand in hand with everyday lessons. Integrating technology in the classroom can serve as a valuable form of practice for research skills that will be needed in the future.
Trends in online learning are greatly affecting the traditional classroom design. How does the setup of your child’s learning space affect the way he or she learns? Share your experiences with us.