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Trends in Learning Spaces: Boundaryless Education

October 19, 2016
  • Higher Education

Have you stepped into a high school classroom recently? Chances are you witnessed today's students learning and educators teaching in a much different way than when you were in school. Textbooks, student planted in rows of desks and teachers lecturing at the front of the class are becoming a thing of the past. Classroom design, teaching and learning are dramatically changing.

The Internet, learning management systems, and access to online content has expanded the borders of classrooms and altered learning styles. Students can virtually connect with classmates and teachers while simultaneously accessing class materials online. Learning is happening any time, anywhere.

This evolution is quickly altering the landscape and layout of the “traditional” classroom? Virtual tools and tech present opportunities to rethink the design of a standard classroom. Learning space are needed but they should be viewed through a new lens. Environments that support interactive work and that facilitate project-based learning as well as individual study to large group work are essential. We like to refer to these as boundaryless learning spaces.

Here are three education trends that are driving the need for boundaryless learning spaces. The trends include:

  • Personalized Learning – a large, customizable array of individualized pathways to skill and degree attainment. It's the students choice where they focus their time. Some pathways involve large classes, online content, student engagement in small groups, while some involve few of these or any traditional classroom experience or school learning. We anticipate that collaborative, active learning spaces and blended experiences will evolve substantially over the next few years.
  • Collaborative, Project-Based Learning – a human-centered approach to learning that goes beyond the traditional method of testing students as they gain knowledge. The basic assumption is that learning is much more than knowing; it involves doing, applying, and reflecting on their actions. Groups of students move in and out of projects based on how they see their total learning experience evolving.
  • Blended Learning – occurs when traditional classroom learning is combined with types of online learning experiences, including extensive use of social media.

The student/learner becomes the center of the experience in all of these trends. Schools, administrators and faculty members will be responsible for creating content, developing learning experiences, and providing a mash-up of resources. To ensure the quality of education, institutions will certify programs and measure student learning and outcomes. Faculty will drive content, becoming experts on how content can be integrated across programs and platforms. Digital platforms will connect students to relevant content. These platforms will also support faculty effort, and manage certification and degree granting. 

Education Trends: Interactive Spaces & Project Spaces

Design for boundaryless learning is a new frontier that is just that, boundaryless. Students are using a variety of locations, across subjects, outside of standard learning hours, and often outside of school entirely. Learning environments and furniture solutions are morphing to support flexible learning spaces that support new tech needs and that are easily adaptable. We’re seeing two specific space trends in boundaryless learning environments – interactive spaces and project spaces.

  • Interactive spaces encourage students and staff to talk, share, and exchange ideas. Faculty can meet with students one-on-one or in small groups. Students can come together. They are both disciplinary and interdisciplinary. In terms of furniture, we see schools specifying soft seating and lounge solutions that are comfortable and easily reconfigured. Seating options should be mobile and flexible.
  • Project spaces are where the work gets done – providing places to focus and do hands-on activities. This may include designated makerspaces for project-based learning. Flexible furniture solutions include easily-accessible storage, work tables, and mobile seating. Off-campus companies, agencies, and organizations that sponsor learning may also serve as project spaces through the hosting of external projects on campus.

Paul Lebraun is a second-year student in psychology at Indiana University. One of the reasons he chose to attend Indiana University was its commitment to personalized learning. View the video below to see Paul’s personal learner’s journey.

For more information on this learning scenario and others impacting the future of education, click to download KI’s eBook, “The Learner’s Journey: 4 Learning-Space Scenarios That Reflect 13 Dynamic Trends Impacting the Future of Education.”

by KI Furniture 

KI manufactures innovative furniture and wall system solutions for education, workplace, healthcare and government markets.


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