Yes ! Classroom innovation is not only about methodologies and technologies, it is also about environment, about resources, about furniture, about ease of interaction, about comfort in learning………… Yes ! Of course, it is about ergonomics.
A dear friend of mine who also runs a school , happened to mention to me one evening over tea ,that he is not very happy about how the classrooms look and feel.His teachers have been telling him that kids are not really willing to learn anything, some of them are attentive but majority of them are not at all interested in learning.
There could be many reasons for the students non attention in studies , the inadequate lights in the classroom , the temperature , the distractions outside the class, and the furniture too.
To understand what the underlying reasons were I visited the school . On inspection I realized the furniture that was being used was not comfortable, secondly one of the classroom was right next to the toilets and the computer lab ,there fore the kids were distracted by the students who were coming to the computer lab and to the toilets .we know from experience that when people are uncomfortable, they are distracted. Temperature, lighting, and furnishings all play a role in a person being comfortable. Psychological comfort is also important. Environments that are intimidating or uninviting will hamper learning. I realized that there was a need to make the classrooms more comfortable for learning to be more effective and also to do something about the distraction because of the toilets. Herman Miller(http://www.hermanmiller
After a discussion with the teachers and the students we realized that students had their favorite places at home for studies, it also came to light that students chose these spaces according to their comfort styles.Children choose different learning spaces according to their comfort,some children read while lying on the floor , some can concentrate better sitting at low tables on their knees some prefer standing up and some sitting cosily in a couch.https://www.edutopia.org
Next we had a discussion to understand what kind of furniture should we go in for .We came to a conclusion that we needed five kind of furniture to suit most students’ comfort style.
1.The regular formal desk and chair.
2.Comfortable informal seating like the couch.
3.Mattrresses and cushions for the kids who read while lying on the floor
4. some can concentrate better sitting at low tables on their knees
5.some prefer standing up .
once we realized our need , an order was placed for all five kinds of seating arrangements, five pieces per style to accommodate 30 students.
once the new furniture was put into place , the teachers noticed a surge of excitement in the students, their interest and concentration levels also increased . the attendance also increased , they were now more excited about coming to school.
I personally feel kids should be excited about the whole experience at school . school who have limitation of finance can opt for one such class in school and the kids can shuffle classrooms inorder to use it once a week atleast.
My experience with this school made me realize the effect of furniture on learning is great but unfortunately the spaces inside the classrooms does not seem to have evolved much over the past century, despite the recent changes in pedagogy and the widespread use of information technology inside classrooms and school spaces, the physical learning environment has not yet changed in keeping with this evolution.
We need to understand “Learning is not a spectator sport…[Students] must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.” —Chickering and Gamson
Educators, researchers, and students are discovering the benefits and advantages of cooperative, active, and engaged learning. Classroom spaces that support such a shift in teaching and learning are a need of the hour.
The Learning Studio
In order to plan and construct effective physical learning environments, not only technical specifcations need to be elaborated; qualitative aspects also need to be considered (Nuikkinen 2009, p. 64). The concept of “quality design” has become critical the world over. It relates to school construction and, more particularly, designing a quality physical learning environment, measuring it and analysing the results (OECD, 2006). With regard to quality criteria for school building and design, the key actors are students; requirements are determined by specifc age groups, in conjunction with societal needs and regulations relating to usability and safety (Heitor, 2005).
Responses from Estrella Mountain Community College faculty (http://www.hermanmiller.com/r
Mobile Intersect portfolio tables and Caper chairs make it easy for students and teachers to arrange the room to fit the purpose or preference. A circle of chairs for a full-class discussion or six tables for small group projects can be easily configured within the same space to support varied learning and teaching styles.
Intersect portfolio mobile display products can move to wherever they are needed. Larger whiteboards can quickly divide a single larger space into smaller group areas.
WirGeless access throughout the spaces frees students to move, along with laptops, to where they need or want to be. Replacing desktop computers with laptops has increased levels of engagement. Students interact frequently and are more open to share information, in large part because they are not tethered to or hidden behind a computer monitor.
Because the studios foster direct and conversational relationships, they help avoid the passivity and isolation associated with traditional classrooms.
Learning studios also enhance peer-to-peer support. Compared to traditional classrooms, learning studios provide more academic challenge while still enhancing more relaxed, less intimidating group collaboration. When observed , students began to form study groups on their own or would turn to peers more often for help because interaction and participation became natural behaviors.
Learning-studio design also helped build a sense of identity and belonging. Students feel the face-to-face arrangement of the tables and seating in learning studios made them more likely to introduce themselves to one another at their tables and talk about assignments or share questions.
The article was written by
Mrs Kalpana Kadiyan, a seasoned educationist