Take a moment to step back from your personal role in the K12 process and put yourself in the position of the learner. How would you learn best? What learning activities are the most motivational to you? How do you interact with other learners? Finding the answers to these sorts of questions is at the core of any truly effective student-first design strategy.
The Student-Centered Design Philosophy
A student-centered design process simply means that the wants and needs of students have the final say in the choices made during the design process. We believe that the design of a K12 school should not be based on our ideas of what an effective learning environment is. K12 school design should be centered around the student and establish the foundation for successful learning outcomes.
Student-centered design is an iterative approach. Innovation and change are driven by understanding how and why people will use a design solution – it really is that straightforward.
Where Do You Start?
One word: empathy. The best way to create empathy? Observe a learning environment in action! If you have the opportunity, first-hand observations of education goals bring perspective, remove guesswork and generate creative ideas. Going out and collecting real-world information about behavior helps uncover powerful design solutions that make human-centered design possible.
Making it Work
Once design ideas are identified, move on to the physical space. Armed with a better understanding of your students, consider the sorts of furniture solutions would make for a successful and purposeful space. Now is also the time to think about technology integrations and the incorporation of specialized makerspaces.
Finally, bring these ideas to life and create a real learning environment that embodies specific solutions for your students. A student-centered design process is simple to understand yet requires a lot of hard work. However, if the process is executed well, students can reap the benefits for decades.