Planning the classroom of the future.
2011 Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Conference in Nashville featured Classroom 2021. Architectural firms, educators, school suppliers and manufacturers formed teams to submit a design for a high school classroom 10 years in the future.
"ZoN: The Classroom of 2021," a technology-rich agile learning environment igniting the passion for learning, was voted by attendees as best in the show. ZoN was defined as one of the many varied learning environments that make up the puzzle mosaic of the high school of 2021. The "ZoN," a home base for students and their coaches (teachers) to collaborate, discuss and design individual learning programs, is a place for students to be "In the Zone."
The vision for the ZoN is driven by what inspires successful student learning: grounded by student interest and curiosity, and reinforced by quality teachers and visionary mentors, is relevant, integrated, interactive and inspiring. It is designed to empower students and teachers. Access, flexibility and the freedom to customize education will create rewarding learning experiences.
Experiences define the ZoN. Students in the ZoN have a social, emotional and intellectual anchor. Knowledge "coaches" care for all students. It is a safe place to risk learning beyond expectations. The academic journey becomes a discovery of information and personal talents. Learners’ motivations are ignited by the multiple learning platforms in the ZoN.
Settings vary to accommodate individuals, groups and extended connections by creative furniture groupings and technology. Flexible space adapts to a learner’s need. Individual aspirations are supported in a safe, healthful and sustainable environment. Access to information is the foundation to communal learning; skill development is led by gentle mentoring. The ZoN can happen in any learning setting, new or old. As ubiquitous as technology will be in 2021, budget will not be a major stumbling block. Educators will be challenged to embrace flexibility, and multiple learning styles and formats. The payoff will be students with a passion for inquiry, empowered to learn by using the resources of the world.
ZoN space design concepts:
•Sustainable teaching tool.Quality materials enrich the learning space and respect the environment. The ZoN sets a positive example for future generations.
•Flexibility. Sliding, folding and pivoting walls create a variety of learning environments. Light, mobile, reconfigurable furniture provides flexibility to create multiple arrangements. Wireless, integrated technology throughout the space enables multiple activities to occur simultaneously.
•Acoustics. A sound-enhancement speaker system directs and enhances voices, and sound-absorbing ceilings provide acoustic control.
•Indoor air quality. An energy-efficient, diffused-air HVAC system supplies fresh air at the floor, returning at the ceiling. This low-flow system provides fresh air and a quiet, comfortable learning environment.
•Lighting. LED indirect lighting offers an infinite number of light levels. Occupancy sensors shut lights off when the room is unoccupied. Daylight sensors adjust light levels automatically.
•Daylighting. High windows bring natural light into the ZoN. Light shelves protect the room from direct light and reflect light to the back of the room. Electrostatic glass provides control of the light protecting the room from solar heat gain. The ceiling slopes from 13 feet to 10 feet to direct reflected daylight.
•View. Lower windows and a door provide a visual connection and access to the outdoors. Electrostatic glass maintains view while controlling glare.
•Outdoor learning space. Outdoor areas accessible from each classroom provide gathering space for teaming as well as planting beds and garden walls for exploratory work.
Editor's note: A presentation of the ZoN can be found via link at www.atsr.com/classroom_future.html.