The learning spaces of today are calling for new levels of versatility. There are times when a teacher needs to provide direct instruction to a whole class, while other times, students are having a class discussion, working together on projects, or working individually. A few highly effective concepts that enable this sort of versatility include learning zones, adaptable furnishings, and more.
Design concepts like these address the need for more flexible, dynamic learning spaces that can easily be changed and adapted.
Even before COVID-19 forced K-12 leaders to rethink the design of school spaces, versatility was an important design element for classrooms and other instructional environments. As life returns to normal, versatility is a critical design element that’s here to stay.
Versatility is Vital
The design of the learning space should facilitate each of these activities effectively, with minimal or no downtime in transitioning from one type of activity to another. By seamlessly supporting many different learning activities and modalities, versatile spaces help engage students more deeply in their education — and they ensure that teachers can meet a wide range of student needs and abilities.
Segregated Learning Zones
One very powerful way to increase versatility is through the addition of learning zones. These are separate spaces that support different kinds of educational activities. One learning space could have an area that allows students to study quietly with soft, comfortable seating – while another might be a dedicated space for creativity and collaboration with tables featuring built-in storage for supplies. It’s important to clearly define and limit the purpose of each zone to maximize its effectiveness. It is then possible for each zone to be equipped with the furniture and materials that are most appropriate for that particular kind of learning.
Choosing the Right Furniture
Not every learning space is big enough for separate learning zones. In these situations, educators can create flexible, multi-use spaces by simply making use of furniture with wheels. By making use of modular pieces that can be easily rearranged into different configurations, you can achieve much higher levels of versatility with relatively little effort.
This gives teachers the ability to have students congregate at front-facing tables for direct instruction or disperse with modular desks to facilitate a class discussion. Having movable, agile furniture makes this transition easier and more seamless.
Another part of versatility is having furniture that can serve multiple purposes simultaneously, with very few adjustments. Choosing furniture that can serve multiple purposes allows you to maximize your use of a learning space. One example of this would be mobile shelving. These can fill your storage needs while also serving as an attractive space divider.
Versatility is the Future
The big takeaway is that versatility is both important and practical. When designing a modern learning environment, remember to consider how you might incorporate learning zones and/or movable, agile furniture that can serve multiple purposes — and understand how various pieces of furniture can help you accomplish different types of learning goals most effectively.
However you go about achieving versatility, it’s critical to design flexible and easily adaptable spaces to different needs and uses. Starting with large, open spaces, and using portable dividers or other design elements to delineate these spaces, gives you the flexibility to create, adapt and reimagine learning spaces on the fly.