Flexible Classroom: Extend Your Learning
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Flexible Classroom: Extend Your Learning


When you think about a traditional
college classroom, you probably envision row after row of fixed seating… seats
all arranged in a row and all facing forward toward the front of the
classroom where you usually find a chalkboard, a whiteboard, and sometimes a
lectern. That kind of traditional arrangement can actually have negative
effects upon learning. For one thing, it invites faculty to lecture. It invites
them to adopt the “sage on the stage” persona and invites students to become
passive consumers of course content. In that respect, that traditional
arrangement can discourage interaction and inhibit active learning.
Recent research tells us that classroom design has a significant influence upon
learning. Classroom design can increase both retention and engagement, and those
two things are very important. Classroom design can help develop skills for life
and work beyond the classroom—in particular, skills associated with
self-directed learning and collaborative problem-solving. Classroom design can
increase levels of formal and informal interaction between faculty and students,
and that interaction between faculty and students is often cited by students as
being crucial to their overall satisfaction with the college experience.
In short, comfortable classrooms promote a sense of well-being.
They keep minds focused and they limit distractions. At the ILC 313, we’ve taken
all of that research and more into consideration when choosing furnishings
for the room, particularly the tables and chairs that are available here. All of
the seating is configurable insofar as it can just be moved around the room
quickly and easily. It’s all wheeled chairs. The chairs fold up if you
want them out of the way. They’re stackable as well if you really want to
minimize the space that they take. Similarly, the tables are configured to
be moved around easily and quickly so that you can move them into whatever
shape your classroom activities require. They can be set up one way at the
beginning of class. Toward the middle of class, they
can quickly and easily be configured into some other arrangement. What we’ve
tried to do in ILC 313 is create a flexible environment that supports your
teaching methods and also supports the activities you ask students to engage
in.

About James Carlton

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