During the pandemic, schools rapidly adopted technology and flexible learning models so they could better support students. Now, many district administrators are deciding to keep those flexible models when the pandemic ends. To help educators make the most of new teaching strategies and tools, MiEN Company has published “A Guide to Creating Dynamic Active Learning Spaces.”
“Increased levels of technology have made the traditional arrangement of desks and front-of-the-classroom focus unnecessary,” said Dr. Christina Counts, Vice President of Education for MiEN Company. “Even before the pandemic, there was a growing shift toward giving students more opportunities to practice the ‘four Cs’ – creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication. Active learning environments are much better suited to supporting the development of four C skills as well as others like computational thinking, growth mindset, resilience and leadership.”
The guide describes the many advantages of flexible and mobile learning spaces. Among the research that it cites is Baylor University’s finding that “when classroom layouts are designed thoughtfully, learning environments have been shown to facilitate student-centered teaching leading to improved student engagement.” It also shares a quick case study of how New Albany High School in Indiana transformed a media center into a multi-purpose room and the accompanying benefits.
“A Guide to Creating Dynamic Active Learning Spaces” explains that active and flexible learning environments use movable walls and modular, multi-use furniture to reconfigure learning spaces for different learning objectives. It shares the example of MySchool@Kent in Grand Rapids, Michigan, how it adapted one of its classrooms and the resulting change in student learning. The guide also shares ideas for creating more flexible spaces without completely retrofitting classrooms, libraries or student gathering spots.
To further help educators, the guide includes a checklist of questions to ask when evaluating which spaces to redesign for active learning. The questions revolve around a space’s ability to accommodate the following:
- Different activities and modes of learning
- Technology use
- Learning objectives
The guide’s final section explains how to use federal COVID stimulus funding on campus buildings and grounds. It outlines the allowable uses of stimulus funding for facilities, including repairs, upgrades, and replacements.