School and university refurbishment and build projects come with their own specialised planning and layout challenges, with several competing requirements that all need attention. Planning for these challenges, along with all your school or university’s specific and individual needs, can seem overwhelming. But with the right preparation, it’s easily achievable.
Community and connection are vital elements in any student’s learning journey. Students in schools and universities want to feel connected to one another and to their teachers or lecturers. Strong and expert communities also help to attract students to schools or universities.
The need for strong communities is a key challenge in building in the education sector. One way to help build a sense of real community among students is through flipped classrooms. In flipped classrooms, students spend time learning collaboratively. Having already consumed the lesson content online or earlier in the day or week, students are able to engage in community learning and directly interact with their teacher and fellow students.
To support this process, flipped classrooms provide flexible spaces that allow students to move around and collaborate with those around them. Flexible furniture and room orientations are incorporated to help promote interaction. (You can read about flipped classrooms in more detail here).
The flipped classroom is one example of a social learning space, but it’s not the only one.
Many universities now recognise that even campus cafes and other similar areas can be social learning spaces that encourage interaction, collaboration and learning. Planning the project with a social learning emphasis in mind means ensuring these spaces support learning on both an individual and a collaborative level. This means taking care of the basics, such as plenty of power points and USB charging points, and fast wireless internet. But it also means carefully planning your floor space, furniture and other features to encourage interaction.
Ultimately, the key is to consider all spaces as an extension of the classroom and treat them as such. This may seem like a challenge at first, but the benefits are
Cutting-edge teaching rooms with projectors, flexible furniture and video links that support student collaboration and a sense of community are all important elements of building in the education sector.
However, one final challenge is the need to go beyond this and consider the whole environment of your school and university.
Careful landscape layout and a master-planning approach helps to ensure that your building or buildings don’t simply consist of several disconnected teaching and learning rooms and spaces. Instead, you can create a holistic feel across the entire campus, reinforcing a sense of community and the feeling that every space is a learning space.