Adaptable and flexible designs are crucial qualities in the context of education and schooling. Students must be given the tools they need to successfully navigate an environment that is always changing as the world changes and advances quickly. However, as the teaching methods are evolving and teachers are taking initiative towards development the physical environment is equally important to be looked upon. Since childhood, children spend most of their time in homes and after that in schools, so providing a pleasant, welcoming physical environment for students will not only influence their academic performance but their well-being and mental will also get positively influenced.
Diana G. Oblinger wrote, “Spaces that are flexible, accommodating different approaches and uses, improve the odds for effective learning.”
To design flexibility and adaptability in schools, learning spaces i.e., classrooms are considered to be the most vital space. Creating learning spaces that can quickly adjust to the various demands of students, teachers, and the educational community is referred to as having adaptable and flexible designs in schools as the approaches are based on the need, aspirations, and functionality. These layouts are intended to improve learning overall, encourage teamwork, and support diverse teaching philosophies and activities.
Flexible Learning Space for Schools
Flexible learning environments are by definition diverse and dynamic settings with constantly changing layouts. The best way to define flexible learning environments is as a combination of pedagogical strategies, spatial layouts, and classroom arrangements that empower choice, transforming conventionally static classrooms into individualized and interactive learning environments.
Teachers and students have the opportunity to work and study in a way that best suits their needs and preferences thanks to the physical architecture of a flexible learning environment, which is vital to classroom management. The classroom setup is being experimented with to promote involvement between students and teachers, creating an open forum where kids can reflect on themselves with a sense of security and belonging.
Also, by adding audience seats to school sports, schools may invite and share their accomplishment with the community, extending enthusiasm to the local main street as well as school corridors. However, because schools are only open for a portion of the week, they can provide more direct support to the local community by opening up their common areas. Community activities such as political campaigns, plays, and temporary health care are permitted in the circular center courtyard of the Community Canvas School in Sawarpada, India. While the Copenhagen International School in Denmark locks classrooms for common spaces like the canteen, library, and performance facilities, they remain open after school hours for community events.
Benefits of Flexible Designs for Schools
To ensure the impact of flexible designs in schools on children here are various researches conducted. One such research conducted in Australia by Katharina Kariippanon and Dylan Cliff from the University of Wollongong focused on the interrelation between flexible learning spaces and teaching, student well-being, and learning. According to the study, those adaptable spaces encouraged better connection and were more enjoyable, cozy, and inclusive. The study came to the conclusion that a flexible learning environment allowed for greater autonomy while also appearing to have a positive impact on teaching, learning, and the general well-being of students. Some of the benefits that flexible designs have,
- Better learning experience
- Student’s health and well being
- Enhancing Learning Motivation
- Improving Cognitive Maturation in Children
- Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Children
- Better sense of community and community engagement
- Children start to value and respect
- Boosting Confidence in Children
- Improving focus
- Commitment to learning
Elements to incorporate for Flexible Designs for school
Flexibility in design is essential if a school is to fulfill the constantly shifting needs of students, staff, and the community.
Creating Multipurpose Spaces that can be easily transformed for a variety of uses, for larger spaces for group projects or presentations, imagine classrooms with movable furniture or partitions that can be opened up.
Use flexible designs, modular furniture that is simple to reconfigure to fit various teaching and learning philosophies. This makes it possible to quickly adjust to various activities and class sizes.
Design flexible classroom layouts that can handle many teaching philosophies, including traditional lectures, group projects, and project-based learning.
Including community engagement as an element to incorporate while designing will foster a sense of individual ownership in the community and using the resources available to them. Educational social spaces could be incorporated which increases community engagement in the schools engaging students vertically as well as horizontally in the academic systems. Schools not only educate children but also teach them empathy, compassion, and humanity. As a result, it is critical that they provide both environments and opportunities for children to gain social skills by being social.
Inclusive design for schools is indeed an equitable approach, making it considered for the specially-abled students. And, it will develop a sense of humanity in the children promoting to help their peers and engage with them.
Incorporating outdoor learning spaces into the design will be beneficiary for the students improving learning environments for students and teachers too. It will encourage learning between peers beyond the traditional system of learning.
Using a sustainable approach in the design reduces the consumption of energy promoting a healthy learning environment. The use of natural light, incorporating passive heating and cooling systems will indeed create a better environment making it a calm and energetic space for learning.
The acoustic consideration in the school design should also be addressed, especially in the open and flexible designs spaces.
Including wellness spaces like meditation rooms, outdoor facilities, and fitness spaces promotes the physical as well as mental well-being of the children. The more time they spend in green areas will improve their brains and physical health which positively influences their life and their academics.
In summary, flexibility and adaptability are desirable qualities for both students and educational institutions. Schools that give these qualities a high priority foster an environment that fosters innovation, resiliency, and the capacity to flourish in a continuously changing environment.