Designing Schools for a Modern Learning Environment

How flexible layouts and technology in the classroom better prepare today’s students for their future
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Sponsored by MooreCo Inc.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe why and how schools are changing to better engage students and teachers.
  2. Discuss how classrooms are evolving for better learning environments.
  3. Define how furnishings in new classrooms add to superior learning.
  4. Describe green and sustainable elements in modern classrooms.
  5. List technology elements suited for a high-impact classroom.


This test is no longer available for credit

When President Lyndon B. Johnson stated in his famous “Great Society” speech of 1965, “More classrooms and more teachers are not enough. We must seek an educational system that grows in excellence,” he knew then what still know now: Education is key to a great society, and new strategies are necessary.i

The term “old school” is fine for classic guitars, rock groups and vintage timepieces. The term denotes something old-fashioned that has maintained its value. But when describing schools and classrooms, a modality evolved from an old and tired classroom teaching style, basically unchanged for more than a century, is desperately needed. Fading away is the staid, static modus operandi of one wall with a chalkboard and a teacher’s desk at the front of the room, desks lined up in rows facing forward, with students passively receiving information.

The connected, interactive, globally oriented world students will enter as adults calls for more than rote memorization skills and the ability to sit still and follow directions. The challenging future these students will face demands collaborative skills, relevant uses of technology, the ability to think through problems and the ability to see the interconnectedness of major disciplines—science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).

But new teaching styles require more than just new teacher skills. The new paradigm demands a change to the very layout of these schools, a rethinking of how schools and classrooms are designed, how classroom functions shift and change and flow as the lesson or activity dictates.

The influence of designers and architects in creating new schools and classrooms cannot be overemphasized. Architecture has always “taught” and informed occupants. The entrance architecture tells occupants where to enter the building. The layout and walls and openings and furnishing instruct occupants how to move through a building, where to pause and where to stop. The design of forward-thinking schools likewise informs the occupants and helps direct the activities therein.

A modern learning environment calls for flexible seating and room layout for different teaching and learning activities.

Image courtesy of MooreCo Inc.

A modern learning environment calls for flexible seating and room layout for different teaching and learning activities.


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Originally published in November 2014