What is Next for Successful Learning Environments?

What is Next for Successful Learning Environments?

By:  Donna Metallic , RID

During a recent conversation with a higher education client we started to discuss the ecosystem of a learning environment.  It reminded me of a trip to Steelcase University in Grand Rapids Michigan, where I had the opportunity to discuss the active learning ecosystem and experience firsthand the learning lab products. How can design influence our educational system, we must deliver smarter solutions to stay competitive in this global world.

Over the past 7 years we have been talking about the Active Learning and the Scale Up classrooms, now I would like to take another step towards integration of a few best practices that have taken off and how they can engage the student and enhance the teacher relationship. When lecture time is so precious, it is imperative that ease of movement for with minimum disruption to the class is a must.  When changing the learning dynamic, is not allowing space to be the barrier, but allowing the educational discussion desired activity be the focal point. The Steelcase team reinforced the three key elements of a successful learning ecosystem environment:  Technology, Space and Pedagogy.

The educational ecosystem experience is influenced by the changes in pedagogies and technologies and the idea that students learn with access to a range of tools.  Think about the best class you ever had – formal lecture, peer to peer engagement or the professor would try to hit all of your senses and get you moving??  What got you engaged? Layer technology and flexible furniture and now you get a new ecosystem.  So what can designers do to help facilitate this type of educational experience?  Provide different classroom tools that allow for more collaboration, movement and group engagement.  More display surfaces- both vertical and horizontal. As the manufacturers get pushed to create more flexible solutions then our educational system will expand with the growing technologies and pedagogies. Go to Steelcase.com/educationsolutions  for a few more application ideas and white papers on the active learning ecosystem environment.