In recent years, a transition to agile learning spaces in education settings has been gaining a lot of momentum. In contrast to traditional classroom layouts, agile learning spaces are designed to be fluid, adjustable and flexible. They are intended to promote classroom discussion and collaboration, improve student engagement and enhance creativity. Research also suggests that learning environments can improve academic performance, so you can see why it’s become such a hot topic.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) identified seven key aspects of an Innovative Learning Environment, each of which is hampered by the design of traditional classrooms:
- Considers student-centred learning
- Considers social learning
- Considers emotional development
- Leaves room for individualisation
- Stretches students
- Considers assessment for learning
- Builds horizontal connections
What does an agile learning space look like?
Traditional classroom layouts feature rows of desks all focused on a blackboard or white board at the front of the classroom, as seen here. They were designed to allow only the person at the front to be in control of learning and limited the types of experiences one could have in the space. Their primary role is to provide a basic shelter for a group of children and an adult.
|An example of a traditional classroom layout|
Today we might expect to see adjustable standing/sitting desks, beanbags, cushions, amphitheatres and breakout spaces. The most significant difference is that you will see learners moving around the classroom. These spaces allow the teacher and the student to explore many different types of settings and experiences, sometimes within the same day. It also shifts the teacher’s position from authority of power, to leader of learning.
|An example of an agile learning space at the Arthur Holt Library|
At Trinity Grammar School, we are committed to providing dynamic teaching and learning spaces that allow students to learn and perform at their best.
Trinity Grammar School’s Arthur Holt Library is just one of those spaces. Refurbished at the beginning of 2015, the School received national and international award attention, being named as the winner of The Educator Innovative Schools List 2015, receiving an honourable mention in the Savvy Spaces, Digital Innovation in Learning Awards and a nomination for the Great School Libraries Campaign.
The move to agile spaces does not compromise the quality of teaching or the ambitions for each learner. It expands teachers’ options regarding how they might use the learning environment to support learning and teaching.
At Trinity, our focus is on understanding boys and providing them with the tools and experiences they need to flourish. So, what place do agile learning spaces have in boys’ education specifically? Similar to the OECD’s list of characteristics above, we have found new and interesting outcomes when boys experience different learning environments.
Here are five benefits of agile learning spaces for boys:
1. Design impacts achievement
A growing body of research suggests that the design of a learning space can have a significant effect on student success. For instance, a study by researchers at the University of Salford in England found that classroom design can have a 25 percent impact, either positive or negative, on student achievement over the course of an academic year — with factors such as colour, complexity, flexibility, lighting and student choice having the most influence.
2. Collaboration builds social skills
With collaboration a strong focus of adaptive learning spaces, boys have greater opportunity to build strong bonds and friendships with their classroom peers. Developing these social skills is vital in boys’ education and for preparing them for life after school. An example of this is highlighted when several classes are combined for team-taught lessons in the Arthur Holt Library: both students and teachers can learn and work together in new ways using these new spaces.
3. Movement promotes engagement
Boys need movement. Research suggests that in order for boys to open up and talk, action-orientated activities such as sport, physical activity and movement are found to have positive results.
4. Greater interaction with teachers
Agile spaces create greater opportunities for students to interact with teachers on a more practical level. Teachers will gain a more thorough understanding of how each boy prefers to work and learn and therefore be able to cater for their needs better. In agile spaces, teachers are afforded more opportunities to address these needs compared to traditional spaces.
5. Caters to individual learning experiences
Not every boy is the same. One of the most significant benefits of agile learning spaces is their adaptability. Teachers can modify learning spaces to suit an intended activity. Further, students can select a learning environment that suits them. Some boys will be quite happy to sit for long periods, while others will prefer to stand or have the chance to walk around the classroom on occasion. Agile learning spaces also allow children to work at their own pace or in groups – they can accommodate students at all levels.
For over a hundred years Trinity Grammar School has educated boys in mind, body and spirit. Fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, we aim to know, understand and nurture every student to help them realise their potential, passions and purpose in life.
To learn more about the Trinity difference and to discover why we’re one of Sydney’s leading schools for boys, download our prospectus.