Some classroom design information to facilitate learning

 

Classroom furniture and classroom environment conducive to learning. Choosing capable workstations, acoustically sound cork bulletin boards, and other classroom furniture, considering different ways to think of and use space and student desk layout, being alert to ambiance in your classroom environment - these factors and more can all contribute to, or distract from, student motivation and learning.

Flexible classroom design layouts. Contemporary education accommodates both individual learning and learning in small groups, ergonomics, as well as the student's sense of well-being. Maximizing incentives and minimizing distractions is important, yet, in addition, tight budgets often call for the desks and chairs to accommodate multiple-uses and ages of students.

Ergonomic classroom designs benefit learning. Ergonomics is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely." These human factors include desk factors, computer and keyboard placement, lighting, reading distance, height, ease of access to files, among other factors.

Create a functional classroom environment with appropriate workstations. Rather than placing computer equipment on regular desks or on tables, classroom design utilizing adjustable workstations specifically constructed to accommodate computer equipment offers plentiful advantages for the user.

Numerous university studies have proven the importance of correct desk ergonomics and computer posture in reducing physical ailments and increasing productivity. Increased functionality also allows increased flexibility.

Classrooms can serve several different age groups when the workstations can be easily adjusted. Check the smooth and quick adjustment possible with pneumatic workstations and crank workstations, as examples. These come in both single and dual user widths. There are also workstations allowing individual adjustment of keyboard platforms even when two people are using the workstation.

 1891 history classroom at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI)

1891 history classroom at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). Note the front-facing hard-backed wood bench-style chairs, the lack of carpeting on the wood floors, lack of student writing surfaces, and round-the-room blackboards - a comfort and acoustic nightmare!

Choose from a full range of flexible classroom computer furniture designs for team collaboration, learning, and efficiency serving multiple or single users:

Traditional front-facing classroom furniture is no longer standard. Most western educators have come to believe that the placement of desks should foster community and cooperative learning, so there's now a greater emphasis on group learning and agile classroom design. Selecting mobile workstations or desks that can be easily moved where needed or set into innovative arrangements such as "U' or "fishbowl" concentric circles, or using workstations specifically designed to be clustered into groups of 4 or groups of 3 and 6 classroom computer workstations offer more benefits in these type of environments.

There's increasing awareness of the necessity for un-crowded seating arrangements, plenty of "elbow room," and seating that allows individuals to move without distracting from the instruction of others around them. Some studies suggest that when teachers adjust the environment to match student preferences, an improvement in academic performance and personal behavior results.

Height adjustable mobile desk / cart

 

 wood-backed benches in 1893

Shoulder-to-shoulder instruction on wood-backed benches in 1893 at UNI was very different from today's agile, modern classroom designs.

 


Classroom environment acoustics is critical in learning.  Numerous studies have shown the detriment of noise upon learning within the classroom. Sometimes students literally cannot hear the instructor. Other times the sounds are distracting, and, at time, an annoying distraction affecting emotions. Noise may be vibratory from the A/C, exterior noise, hall noise, or classroom noise. Many schools are designed without any buffering materials. Typical classrooms are constructed using brick or cement walls, hard floors, metal-framed desks, high ceilings, broad undraped windows, large whiteboards or chalkboards. Most of these items encourage sound vibration and none absorb sound.

 Earth Day Bulletin Board display

Earth Day Bulletin Board display from Bulletin Board Ideas for Music Teachers.


Faulty acoustics need to be corrected, while additional sound absorption material can reduce the effects of noise. Ensuring strategic placement of large cork bulletin boards within the classroom can have a significant affect, because cork is well-respected for its ability to "swallow" noise. Noise doesn't bounce off cork, and it can also reduce mechanical and noise vibration by absorbing reverberations. Some schools or teachers have, literally, painted over cork bulletin boards to create a colorful backdrop, but the addition of the paint surface has reduced the acoustic benefits in those situations as paint does not absorb sound.  

Bulletin boards, including vinyl tack boards and mobile presentation display boards, also play a vital function as a backdrop for upbeat classroom decorations and in easily displaying student work, projects, and announcements.


Strategic placement of whiteboards and chalk boards. Since the invention of the blackboard, writing boards have been a primary means of educating large groups of students in the classroom and meeting room. When a classroom is designed in the traditional row method, situating one or two large chalk boards or whiteboards in the front of the room has some benefit. Yet, when a room uses flexible seating arrangements, there is definite benefit to ensuring there are writing boards in locations that are easily viewed by people seated in different locations. This allows different teams to use boards close to their own location without disrupting other students in the room. It also reduces the necessity of students twisting in their seats and straining their necks to see different boards. Placing children's easels at different locations in younger age classrooms can be another perfect accommodation facilitating young group interaction.

large whiteboard


Lighting and glare is a factor that needs to be addressed for your classroom design. Glare may make writing on the board unreadable for some students, dependent on their seating location. Also, some people work better in low light, others work best in brighter light. Some students may become hyper in bright light. Attention to these factors and establishing different lighting conditions in sections of the classroom can offer students a respite from uncomfortable illumination.

There are now some boards made of materials and processes that can reduce glare or increase clarity in other ways. The Convex whiteboard, for example, is praised for its innovative glare reduction design and is a popular product. There are some other magnetic dry erase boards that offer the benefit of reduced surface light distortion and also demonstrate improvement in contrast sensitivity and visual acuity to the human eye by three-fold. Some education chalk boards are also quality-built with a finish that enhances visibility and color contrast.