What is in this article?:
- 21st-Century Learning Q&A
- Freese and Nichols, Inc.
- HMFH Architects, Inc.
- Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood
- The Estopinal Group
- SHW Group LLP
- MKC Associates, Inc.
- Selser Schaefer Architects
- DLR Group
- Fred Quinn & Associates
- Rowland Design
- Bond Wolfe Architects
- College of Business Administration, University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Dober Lidsky Mathey
- HHSDR Architects/Engineers
- Dougherty + Dougherty Architects LLP
- Earl Swensson
- TMP Architecture, Inc.
- Clark Nexsen Architecture & Engineering
- The Collaborative Inc.
- Perkins Eastman
Architects comment on the latest innovations in designing for future learning, as well as how design can support these trends.
Tomas Jimenez-Eliaeson, Design Director, Community Practice Group
What are the latest ideas/innovations in designing to support 21st-century learning?
The differentiator in the competitive, global, 21st-century world will depend on the skills that certain individuals will develop to work, collaborate, lead, create, design, communicate and interact with others from around the world. We are increasingly and exponentially venturing into a customizable world. Education is currently in the transition between a 19th-century education delivery "classroom" model, to a 21st-century "immersive learningscape" model. The sooner school districts realize it, the faster we will cultivate competitive, brilliant and innovative minds that will be lead our world in finding the required solutions to ever increasing challenges.
How can the built environment support emerging trends in education?
In order to address the required 21st-century skills to be competitive in the global marketplace, we need our learning environments to accommodate all learning typologies, multidisciplinary learning methods, active learning, supported with immediate assessment, emerging technologies and relevance of studies to the real world. Our focus needs to be placed on creating active, engaging, immersive and unexpected learning environments.
What are some design trends in specialized classrooms or programs to support future learning styles/methods?
We are currently working on the "immersive learningscape" model. This learning environment focuses on accommodating five typologies of learning:
Think — based on the concept that learning increasingly occurs at the individual level. Small, intimate spaces allow for the time and environment to analyze and investigate, think and digest information.
Create — focuses on teamwork learning. These spaces can be arranged in multiple configurations allowing for flexibility of engagement and multiplicity of programming, as well as interactive learning in small to medium size groups. This typology embraces the successful project-based learning model and is enhanced by the latest haptic technologies.
Discover — this "workshop" environment is set up for testing, hands-on and exploration, which allow for larger group meetings where equipment is necessary. These environments will encourage arts and sciences to co-create and invent via fabrication, testing, deconstruction, reconstruction, production and design.
Impart — rendered more as a typical classrooms. These spaces accommodate larger group gatherings, but feature breakout zones for smaller team areas and operable partitions to combine two classrooms for very large gatherings.
Exchange — inspired by the potential of social learning. Paralleling that of academic learning, this energetic space becomes communal space, an environment shared between teachers, students, guests and citizens alike. Teachers "lead" this space, which becomes an incubator for multidisciplinary learning, and cross-disciplinary curriculum creation.
How is technology for today's learning affecting school design?
Technology has pushed the potential for our students to create material (not just absorb), for customized education (not mass teaching), and for interactive learning (not passive). Haptic, multi-sensory technology can enable us to physically interact with a specific subject. i3D software is allowing us to peel the different layers of a brain, turn it and twist it, as if we were surgeons in an operating room. Enhanced (or augmented) reality software is allowing us to learn about the things we see in an interactive way, such as walking the streets of Paris and learning about what we are witnessing at a deeper level of information. An abundance of education apps have been introduced in the last decade, and as we advance, better, more creative, and fascinating apps will revolutionize the way we look at education. We are at the dawn of an education world where your traditional learning process will be flipped. We will watch and listen to the world- class lectures in the afternoons and evenings anywhere on our tablets, and come together to do our homework, discuss the learned material, and collaborate on hands on multidisciplinary teamwork efforts in the mornings at school.
These are readily available technologies that need to be actively used and engaged by our students.
Any other thoughts on designing for 21st-century schools?
We need to continue to foster the connectivity of the community with our schools. Parents, professionals and mentors need to be part of the learning process. It is imperative that students understand the relevance of the subject matters to real life.
Our schools need to allow for an increasingly demanding need to shift from methodologies of teaching (classroom- focused) to typologies of learning (landscape of various learning spaces).
Our school facilities also need to strive to become teaching tools and be used integrally in the delivery of curriculum, That old saying "the building as a teaching tool" is never been more true as we, school designers, architects, planners and engineers, are holistically designing buildings that are driven by sustainability goals and are very overt about showing students how buildings can reduce their carbon footprint, how we can think ecologically about our world, and how our best solutions are achieved in multi-disciplinary ways with new technologies.