Modern learning spaces set the scene for classrooms of the future

New classrooms at Spring Creek School, near Blenheim, offer an improved learning environment.
SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

New classrooms at Spring Creek School, near Blenheim, offer an improved learning environment.

Removing walls in the classroom is not just about removing physical barriers, but about breaking down obstacles to learning.

Modern learning environments are the way forward, says school planning expert Judith Hadfield.

The former Marlborough Girls' College student is based in Dubai and advises people building schools in the Middle East, and around the world, what is needed to help them thrive.

She says the model works for all types of student learner.

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"Learning environments that contribute to impact in student learning are ones that allow flexibility, suits multiple learning styles and is comfortable for the students to choose where they want to work independently, collaboratively, whole class, small and large groups," she says.

Modern learning environments support and promote flexibility, communication, openness and shared access to resources.

The concept provides teachers with an open, flexible learning environment in an area designed to enhance and expand on traditional teaching methods. 

Judith, a director with the Education Intelligence Group, says the conventional classroom model is changing to help strengthen newer teaching methods.

"Learning spaces are what things are called now so classroom in the traditional sense is gone already.

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"But a single cell learning space is also still very relevant to how students prefer to learn.  

"The teachers teach to their strength and the students have the advantage of not only one teacher during the year, in primary school. In this situation the teachers collaborate together and hold teacher and student efficacy as priority in the learning process," she says.

The key to the new model is openness. Modern learning environments feature more glass, they are more transparent, both in design but also content. The new-look study areas typically feature a central teaching hub with break out spaces for different activities.

The majority of the space will be shared, giving students access to more resources, help and the chance to learn from their peers. Research has shown that both physical design and teaching practice need to be closely aligned to give students the best possible outcome.

Vibrant well-connected physical environments will help cater for many different types of learning, Judith says.

"Benefits of collaborative and individual spaces are they engage students more in their learning because they are comfortable. Bringing their home into the classroom so to speak.

"Teachers are becoming more aware that all students work differently and to offer the best environment for greatest impact and development," she says.

 - The Marlborough Express

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