Designing Flexible, Multiuse Learning Spaces: Five Keys to Success


COVID has demonstrated the benefits of designing schools with maximum flexibility and utility in thoughts. Schools with multipurpose spaces and modular, movable furnishings have been in a position to be reconfigured quickly to accommodate numerous requires for each today and tomorrow.

Now that schools have had to pivot to deal with pandemic pressures, we can see an even larger worth to multiuse, versatile understanding spaces. There are other vital factors to continue this line of considering in the future.

PreK-12 college systems need to contemplate designing very agile understanding environments that can help a wide variety of utilizes and understanding modalities—and it reveals 5 crucial methods for undertaking so efficiently.

Why Design Flexible Learning Spaces?

There are quite a few benefits to designing versatile college spaces that can be reconfigured quickly to serve numerous purposes. For instance, a versatile design…

1. Allows for Better Learning Experiences.

According to Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning, versatile understanding spaces “allow for a range of teaching methods and classroom configurations,” which encourages diverse approaches to teaching and understanding. Research confirms the worth of versatile, multiuse spaces in enhancing student . As Diana G. Oblinger (2006) writes: “Spaces that are flexible, accommodating different approaches and uses, improve the odds for effective learning.”

In a study involving nine Australian schools, researchers observed students understanding in conventional classrooms and versatile understanding spaces. They found that students in the versatile understanding environments spent more time interacting with other students, collaborating on projects and assignments, and engaged in active understanding. Active understanding has been verified to improve student attitudes and performance, although assisting students find out crucial 21st century abilities.

2. Saves Money.

If college spaces are developed for numerous utilizes and shared functionality, this cuts down on the all round square footage necessary for new college buildings. While school construction costs differ broadly across the United States, in some locations they can exceed $700 per square foot.

Designing schools for maximum flexibility also aids future-proof college facilities. It enables facilities to evolve as requires adjust, potentially extending the life of a college developing. This also permits for revolutionary new applications developed for the ever-altering workforce requires.

3. Supports Students’ Health and Well-Being.

Creativity through the pandemic was the name of the game for schools. Many schools converted spaces such as media centers, hallways, cafeterias, and gymnasiums into makeshift understanding spaces to enable to spread out safely although nonetheless becoming in college. These efforts have been significantly less difficult in facilities constructed with versatile, multiuse spaces to start with.

As Crabtree, Rohrbaugh &amp Associates (CRA) Architects observes, flexibly developed college environments “were easily adaptable to create additional educational spaces and minimize student-teacher ratios” through the pandemic. What’s more, the use of versatile, modular furnishings permitted for “a quick transition of the space to adapt to a school’s needs and provide for social distancing.”

Moving forward, flexibly developed college facilities leave communities properly-positioned to deal with the possibly endemic instances ahead or other disruptive events that may well take place.

As CRA writes: “The pandemic will have a lasting impact on school design and our built environment. Taking a proactive approach to the concerns raised with COVID can provide a positive path forward for ensuring our students and school buildings are safe, flexible, and provide the desired learning environment for our communities.”

Keys to Success

How can K-12 leaders and facilities planners style versatile college environments that efficiently help a wide variety of utilizes and configurations? Here are 5 crucial considerations.

1. Think Ahead.

Be purposeful in your style of new college buildings, and style with numerous utilizes of the space in thoughts. For instance, can a cafeteria double as an auditorium when lunch is not becoming served? Might a foyer also serve as a college understanding commons?

At Eugene Kranz Junior High School in Texas, the school’s foyer also serves as its library. Bookshelves stand in neat rows along the school’s principal corridor. Soft seating with constructed-in electrical outlets offers students a comfy spot to sit and study, or merely hang out and speak. It’s not uncommon to see students sitting and working on digital devices or huddled about café-style tables and collaborating on projects.

Aside from saving on space, this multipurpose style tends to make the library a crucial focal point of the college. Because students pass by this interactive space as they travel to class, they’re more probably to drop in and take benefit of its sources.

Eugene Kranz Junior High School Media Center

2. Use Open, Collaborative Spaces.

To help maximum flexibility inside college spaces, limit your use of interior walls. Large, open spaces are less difficult to modify or reconfigure for diverse purposes.

As an option to walls, contemplate making use of other techniques to define interior spaces, such as sliding or retractable walls, partitions, panel systems, acoustic dividers, or movable furnishings. Using partitions or acoustic walls in a space permit for diverse configurations you will need in minutes—while assisting to block sound and also supplying privacy.

2021 03 18 Outdoor Commons 1 2 – Health, Kids
Outdoor Commons

3. Choose Modular and Movable Furniture.

Tables, desks, and chairs with constructed-in locking casters or furnishings that is developed to slide on any surface can be moved about quickly to build several area setups—and modular furnishings can be reconfigured speedily to help diverse group sizes or activities, like Classroom Select® NeoShape® Markerboard Desk and Classroom Select® NeoRok® Active Wobble Stool. Moving away from constructed in casework even permits for a massive space such as a media center to be reconfigured into smaller sized spaces. This also saves dollars in building.

4. Consider Portability and Versatility.

It’s not only tables, desks, and chairs that need to be quickly moveable. Portable visual aids, such as these Classroom Select® Mobile Markerboard permit for higher flexibility and can immediately transform corridors and prevalent locations into dynamic understanding spaces. These can be utilised each indoors and out in a versatile understanding space. Think outdoors the 4 walls of the classroom.

Versatile furnishings that permit for numerous utilizes, such as writeable desktop surfaces and tables with built-in storage, additional boost the flexibility of college spaces.

5. Think About Technology Infrastructure.

To help versatile understanding environments in today’s digital age, designers and K-12 leaders should contemplate how to provide energy to students (and teachers) wherever they could will need it.

For instance, you could order furnishings with electrical outlets integrated into tabletop surfaces, beneath desks, or inside seating—or you could use mobile power strips or outlets to bring energy wherever it is necessary immediately. This Classroom Select® Clamp-On Power Module aids K-12 leaders bring energy affordably to current tabletops.

Unlimited Possibilities

By becoming inventive and following these 5 recommendations, designers and K-12 leaders can build versatile college spaces that serve a range of purposes and help quite a few diverse sorts of activities. In the procedure, college systems can save funds, help student well-being, and increase understanding outcomes.

To find out how School Specialty can aid you style versatile, multiuse understanding spaces in your schools, please make contact with your School Specialty Representative.

Dr. Sue Ann Highland

Dr. Sue Ann Highland

Sue Ann Highland, Ph.D., is the National Education Strategist for School Specialty. She has more than 25 years of practical experience as an educator, administrator, and consultant with college systems across the United States.

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Originally published in blog.schoolspecialty.com