How 21st Century Classroom Will Look Like

The classrooms of the future will be adaptable, inviting, smart, comfortable and safe spaces

The world today is evolving at a mindbogglingly rapid rate. Technology is moving the goalposts of human endeavour everyday. Our lives have been drastically reshaped by the internet and smart devices. Is it any surprise then that education has struggled to keep pace?

Education hasn’t been immune to the technological transformation that has redrawn the landscape of our day-to-day existence. However, generations-old methods of imparting education are understandably hard to shake off. Having said that while the education sector may have been late to adapt to today’s technology-rich world, it is fast catching up, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like offices, schools during the pandemic were forced to adopt a ‘study-from-home’ model. After a few teething issues, the sector, largely analog before the pandemic, took digitisation in its stride surprisingly swiftly. There was also a sudden explosion in startup Edtech companies, which had already been gaining traction pre-pandemic, but whose growth was fuelled by the sudden shift to virtual education.

Having now experienced the benefits of digitisation, the technology-enabled learning approach is here to stay.

Even as students return to school, India’s classrooms are on the cusp of a revolution that will define the shape of education in the decades to come.

The debate on what this future should look like has already begun and it will encompass not just how learning is imparted but also the spaces in which it is imparted.

The classrooms of the future will be adaptable, inviting, smart, comfortable and safe spaces.

Adaptability is being increasingly incorporated into learning spaces. Gone are the days when classrooms were rows of desks arranged in an immovable order. As learning becomes more interactive and more of a give and take between teachers and students, so too must spaces evolve to allow for this.

Learning spaces must also be inviting. We’ve all spent time sitting in drably-painted, poorly ventilated classrooms. But as teaching evolves from rote-learning to a more creative, engaged and experiential endeavour, so too are the classroom set-ups of old being relegated to the past.

The use of interactive boards in classrooms, or little-used areas like corridors as collaboration hubs are other examples of making learning spaces more inviting, incorporating greenery and using natural light.

But the key thing to remember when incorporating technology into classrooms is that it should complement the teacher’s work. Technology must therefore be simple and user-friendly.

Walls can also double up as whiteboards or projector screens while adaptive lighting can also be incorporated. Video conferencing facilities are something that should be considered to better expose kids to the wider world.

Amid all the talk about smart learning spaces, we shouldn’t forget to make our classrooms comfortable. Not only can desks and chairs be made to be height-adjustable to suit the students’ specific needs but there should be a variety of furniture in the classroom, such as sit-stand desks, floor cushions and even bean bags that allow them to alternate their posture.

Lastly, and above all, our learning spaces should be safe. Furniture should have rounded edges and corners, it should be designed to industry norms and standards and even be tested and certified for VOC emissions.

Schools have a lot of factors to consider when laying out a roadmap for the future of education. Because it’s not just learning itself, but learning spaces, too, that are undergoing a seismic shift.

Learning spaces therefore must be dynamic and should have furniture that can be rearranged so that the space can be repurposed to suit instructive learning, collaboration and group discussions.

Adaptability can extend beyond the classrooms. School libraries, for instance, can be divided into zones, encompassing everything from silent, study-alone zones, to informal zones for recreational reading.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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21st century classroom Learning Space

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