After picking up free champagne and cupcakes after Malcolm Gladwell’s keynote address at NECC, I stopped by an informal discussion about how to design 21st-century learning spaces, led by Diane Brook from the Catholic Education Office, Sydney, Australia. Brook talked about some of the schools that they have redesigned in Australia to bring classrooms into the 21st century.
Part of the redesign speaks to a shift in the way educators think about classrooms, said Brook. Instead of private, closed spaces, there’s an emphasis now on more open, collaborative spaces where teams of teachers and students can come together, share ideas, and have discussions.
There’s also been a shift from a more teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered environment, said Brook, who suggested that in some classes, it might even be a good idea to get rid of the teacher’s desk altogether. But without going to that extreme, setting up a classroom in a way that puts students, rather than the teacher, in the spotlight is another way architects and educators are moving classroom environments into the future, she said.
And, of course, wiring schools with continual digital connectivity is a given if we want our students to be able to have a 21st-century education, said Brook. Wireless internet, digital projectors, sound systems, and interactive whiteboards should all be important parts of today’s classroom environment.
In addition, having warm, inviting spaces with bright colors can help stimulate students, said Brook. Incorporating furniture that can be moved around into different configurations can also allow more flexibility in the classroom, she said.
More information and the materials available at the discussion are online here.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.