Next Practices in Learning Places for the 21st Century

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The following practices highlight emerging trends in the design and use of learning places. They focus on the different needs of learners, offering choice, flexibility and new approaches to creating learning environments.

Collaborative Design Processes encourage members of the school community to work closely with architects in designing spaces that will support learning philosophies and provide new ways to interact and learn. Interdisciplinary teams of educators, parents and learners and other community stakeholders and architects are all involved from the beginning of the design process.

Flexible Learning Spaces allow users to rearrange temporary walls, furniture, and other learning tools and technologies to support diverse kinds of learning.  Designs are centered on “activity areas” for learning rather than classrooms.  Acoustics to control noise are essential.  Flexible designs may also incorporate fixed features, such as reading areas, countertops, science laboratories or music rooms. Thus, structured learning environments for different kinds of learning may be embedded within flexible spaces.

Learning Anytime, Anywhere approaches using mobile technologies allow learners to engage in learning activities wherever they happen to be – in remote areas, in cafés, and so on.   While mobile technologies allow learners to access content, their major advantage is that they are communication devices and can connect learners to each other.  Mobile learning is relatively new, and much remains to be done in ensuring that these devices help learners to experience rich learning environments.

New Approaches to Online Learning consider the different ways in which learners and teachers interact in Internet-based environments, how learners navigate and make sense of information available online, opportunities to create new kinds of interactive learning tools and games providing immediate and specific feedback, and opportunities for members of a learning community to reflect and collaborate in new and different ways.

Schools as Community Centers providing services to benefit entire communities, such as after hours learning programs for adults, child care, youth programs, town hall meetings, and so on.   These multiple uses for schools may help support schools financially, and may also provide opportunities for schools to create stronger bonds with parents and members of the surrounding community.

WISE invites readers to share their insights on emerging trends and next practices in the design and use of learning places that address the diverse needs of learners around the world on TwitterFacebookLinkedinand MyWISE.