In parts one and two of this series, we talk about the benefits of learning space design, this last entry looks at where to begin.
Many know that learning environments are essential to excellence in learning, but the barriers to making these shifts can often be about taking the first steps. Below are four ways to begin the work of intentional design for all learning spaces.
- Learn the research- More and more research is emerging about the role that learning spaces have on students and teachers. It is essential that we translate research into practice. Research confirms that visual noise negatively impacts learning and biophilic design reduces stress. These are only two of many aspects of the research that all learning design educators should consider in their work.
- Design with, not for- Where are the students? Are they involved in the process? So many schools and districts are buying modern furnishings without any student input. Ask students about changes big and small as they relate to the environment. They not only are who will be experiencing the space, but they also have incredible ideas on how to optimize the changes.
- Take action- The perfect plan will never emerge. It is so important to break the inertia and momentum of learning environments. How things have been is the most powerful force in space design? Mix it up even if it is temporary. Move something around. Try something new. Create a sandbox that could be a prototype for future spaces. It is also a good time to tidy spaces, remove clutter and look for five meaningful additions.
- Notice and see ideas- Design is all about the integration and synthesis of other ideas into a new space. Go outside. Notice nature. Visit a museum with a new lens. Change the way that you view a space. Sit on the floor. Stand on a ladder. End your space blindness. It is hard to make change without fresh inspiration.
Where students learn matters. The future is physical spaces, digital space and spaces that span both worlds. It is our work to be intentional with all of our decisions and then continue to iterate. This is only possible when we create systems to observe and measure our work. Learning environments become a priority when we gather data and use that feedback to adjust to the needs of those that are impacted by all that surrounds them during learning.