The education sector is undergoing a paradigm shift that encompasses both innovative better learning spaces and significant pedagogical changes, as per the requirements.
By learning spaces, we mean, a physical setting for a learning environment, in which teaching and learning occur. The term is commonly defined as an alternative to "classroom," but it may also refer to an indoor or outdoor location, either actual or virtual. It is built with a focus on influencing students and create a better learning environment that soothes their mind. Additionally, help students better prepare across all curriculum areas and learning stages to succeed in a rapidly changing and interconnected world. Seeing which, an array of learning environments are emerging across educational institutions as educators strive to adapt their teaching practices and enhance learning outcomes .These learning spaces are in contrast to traditional classrooms which are characterized by heaps of desks and chairs, facing a teacher at the fore front .The new learning spaces are ‘flexible in nature’ contains a variety of furniture options which can be configured in various ways to facilitate a range of teaching and learning experiences.
According to a survey by MDR, comprising responses of over 1600 educators, 94% of respondents agreed to the fact that learning space indeed impacts learning, and 70% showed interest in having larger classrooms. This report addresses a number of issues related to the physical classroom environment that includes: benefits of flexible seating and collaborative opportunities; improved integration and upgrades to support the latest capabilities of educational technology and adaptations of the learning environment to accommodate different learning styles as well as a blend of in-person and online experiences.
So what are the actual ‘impacts’ of these learning spaces on students?
Change in Behavior:
Most of the behavioral problems occur in secluded areas with little or no activity. These areas don’t let students interact much and engage themselves in class happenings. Thus, to reduce such negative behavior, schools can learn or look up to the design of urban learning spaces and pay attention to the density and variety of space use. That is why, schools being designed today often have a lot of glass and corridors designed to be usable space; makes room for activities and foster positive behaviors and; as students don’t feel isolated.
Earlier schools had few or no windows at all. Well, it was considered to be excellent for teacher presentations and great for thermal insulation, but was built with a notion to make the classroom less distractive. However, several researches claim, this lack of view to the outdoors is detrimental to learning and wellness. According to a study, students learning in daylight classrooms progressed 20% faster on a math test than those with less daylight. Further, just the presence of a skylight resulted in improvements. Thus, we may say, “distraction” of looking out of a window or presence of natural light in a classroom is a restorative experience and beneficial for learning.
Proper space promotes safety and improves learning:
A learning space needs to be motivating, safe and student-friendly. Every child looks for a good and welcoming learning environment as it allows them to work at their potential and enhance their learning ability. Thus, to maximize their learning potential, classrooms should be warm, spacious and inviting in nature to placate a student’s mind.
Encourages collaborative and project-based learning:
Developing a learning space with the help of student boosts a collaborative and project-based learning process. Herein, educators can involve students in examining the numerous ways that a classroom can be rearranged to make it an amazing learning environment; as children need space, comfort and safety, in order to work at their potential. And that’s what a good learning space demands for. It must be safe, welcoming, comfy and inviting in nature as it is crucial for improving a student’s learning ability. It's also a great exercise in space planning, measurements, three-dimensional thinking, and layout.
Thus, we may say, a better learning space improves student’s learning ability, develop their critical thinking process and make them engaged yet better performer in classroom.
Promotes student-centered learning:
Such learning spaces are flexible in nature which makes way to student-centred and group discussion. Here, teachers give instructions to students regarding the lesson plan and objectives at the commencement of the class, and further guidance throughout the lesson, if required. In addition, students get considerable freedom to choose how to go about their learning. Together with the immovable furniture available, this teaching approach creates opportunities and incentives for students to go through the lesson in their own way. Also, get the autonomy to choose which to space work at, what furniture and resource to use and typically form groups or work independently out of their own will.
Improves learning experience through use of virtual spaces:
In a traditional classroom, students merely gets a chance to put forward their question or clear their misunderstandings easily, either they have to wait for their turn or meet teacher somewhere outside their classroom after class, which may not be feasible for both teachers and students as they will have to look for a proper space to sit and discuss. But this modern-aged learning space concept had led to the development of a virtual classroom where a teacher and student could interact directly on web-based chats or video conferencing platform and clear all their doubts from a place of their comfort zone. Thus, making learning and clearing concepts the easiest.
Thus, we may come to the conclusion that, in this highly evolving era students and technologies, both are changing and so does the learning spaces. Now, students can use the spaces that best suit their needs. And by examining their habits, comfort zone, educators may use patterns and then create learning spaces that meet their needs, through which their institutions can make their studies more student-centered and appealing and make learning more impactful than ever.