There’s an app for that
Gone are the days of overhead projectors and dry-erase markers…. well for the most part. With ever-changing technology and its tightly woven integration into most aspects of our lives, it comes as little surprise that educational spaces are evolving as well. Technology is pervasive in our culture, when in doubt take a look at how children under 10 interact with our phones and tablets. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it can actually be used to drastically enhance the learning experience in several ways. Teachers are finding ways to create hybrid learning environments that marry physical group activities and individualized online engagement. Subsequently, we are beginning to see a shift in the physical design of classrooms. Say so-long to former days, when computer interactions were limited to playing The Oregon Trail once a week in the school’s only computer lab, and hello to an era of high-speed, interactive immersion in knowledge for every student, everyday.
What digital can do for you
Many teachers are embracing digital learning technology in the classroom and it has proven beneficial for students and teachers alike. To start, digital learning tools allow for greater personalization in learning and evaluation. It’s easier to offer personalized learning lessons to individuals or groups of individuals with unique learning styles, especially when students can choose lesson plan formats they find most engaging. It’s also easier to track and compare students’ results and participation, digitally, to see which teaching approach is most effective for each class, subject, or demographic. Second, digital learning tools are a great way to expand accessibility across communities. Creating digital curriculums and learning programs allows teachers and schools to easily share information, successful strategies and activities with each other. Another, more obvious benefit of technological integration is efficiency. Students are able to complete work faster and teachers can grade it faster – this leaves more room/time for follow-up discussion and questions or activities, where often a higher level of understanding is achieved. As mentioned earlier, there is no escaping technology, and if you can’t beat them, join them. Even many industries formerly considered “manual labor,” have adopted some sort of technology. By familiarizing students with digital tools now, they will be better prepared to work with them in the workforce. Finally, many studies have found that digital interactions increase students’ engagement with learning. Without even realizing they are learning, students are spending more and more time seeking information online, as opposed to the past, where such knowledge could only be found in reference books in a library or learned from the classroom. It’s the same idea as getting your kids to eat vegetables by putting it in their smoothies – no use in trying to force-feed them steamed spinach when you can just keep sneaking it in the blender.
How to adapt your space
Okay, so you get it – technology in the classroom can be your friend instead of foe, but how do you go about adapting your space? Integrating digital media and learning tools into the classroom isn’t as simple as just buying some computers and plugging them in. There are several factors to consider and questions to ask yourself before deciding how to best organize and utilize your space, so many questions that you may actually feel overwhelmed and discouraged from taking on the daunting task.
Questions to consider
The Interior Concepts has broken up the array of questions you should consider into 4 key categories, ranging from the physical requirements and limitations of your space, to demo-graphical considerations. Here are some sample questions from each to get your brainstorming juices flowing.
- BUILDING CONSIDERATIONS : The physical space
- What is the size and shape of your new or existing learning space?
- Will power be accessed from the floor, ceiling, walls or from the furniture itself?
- CLASSROOM CONSIDERATIONS : The equipment and usage
- Will computers or technology equipment be placed on top of work spaces, or mounted below?
- Will students be encouraged to work primarily in groups or individually?
- TEACHER CONSIDERATIONS : Because teachers need their space too
- What type of desk does the instructor need?
- What type of technology will the instructor employ regularly?
- STUDENT CONSIDERATIONS : Who is the space for
- What age are the students, and what seat/desk height is most age appropriate?
- Do students have backpacks or other materials with them that will require storage?
The light at the end of the tunnel
Once you’re feeling prepared with a pre-plan of attack, what’s the next step? You take your completed planning guide one step further, by exploring the diverse selection of furniture and free, online configurations tools offered at www.interiorconcepts.com, to move into the blueprinting and purchasing phase of your journey. Unlike many other educational furniture providers, Interior Concepts provides flexible solutions for virtually any need – I’m talking furniture modified by the inch! You don’t get much more customizable than that.