The Importance of Collaborative Spaces in Schools
In recent years, we have entered a new era of education. Classroom activities no longer involve the simple lecture and listen method, but instead have gravitated towards approaches that facilitate deeper learning. Interdisciplinary lessons, collaborative projects, and hands on learning have now become the norm.
But, unfortunately, while our teaching styles have evolved, our classrooms have not. Many schools existing today were built back in the 50’s and 60’s and lack the proper constructs to support new styles of teaching and learning. Simply put, we need more collaborative spaces in schools. Collaborative spaces are indispensable to active learning, and are a necessary adjustment our schools will need to make in order to sustain improved emerging pedagogy.
What Is Collaborative Learning?
We are all familiar with the phrase “Two heads are better than one.” Yet for years this is a concept that society has largely ignored when it comes to the way we work and learn. Up until recently, it was believed that learning and working were tasks best performed in a private, individual setting. Collaborative learning was something that occurred in limited amounts, such as in group projects or training seminars held sparsely throughout the year.
However, today many educators and businesses are beginning to break away from this kind of thinking. More and more research is revealing that there is marvelous value in collaborative learning. Collaborative learning helps support higher level thinking, increases retention, improves relationships, and strengthens leadership skills. Such evidence has given rise to a whole new type of learning space, full of life, laughter, and activity.
But for those who are unfamiliar, questions may arise around this new way of working and learning, such as what is collaborative learning and how does one create a collaborative learning space? Below, we’ve provided some insight that we hope you may find useful.
How to Create a Collaborative Learning Environment
Today more and more schools are shifting away from teacher-centered learning and transitioning towards classrooms that combine self-directed and collaborative learning styles. Research shows that collaborative learning environments can help students develop important skills they need to succeed in the real world.
By fostering skills that involve higher-order thinking, communication, and leadership, collaborative learning environments help prepare students for succeeding in roles that they will take on later in life.
Creating a learning environment that’s truly collaborative, however, is no easy task, as any educator will tell you. It requires more than just adding in a couple of group projects here and there.
Schools must design their classrooms in a way that supports collaborative learning by intentionally creating spaces where students can become heavily engaged in hands-on projects, converse easily with one another, and stay focused. Below, we’ve provided some tips for creating a collaborative classroom.
Why Makerspaces Are Key to the Future of Education
Now, more than ever, educators realize that their students need to be kept engaged and involved in order to learn effectively. Having hands-on experiences helps students gain a better grasp of new concepts and retain information. That’s why so many teachers are strong advocates of having collaborative spaces in schools where students can work hands-on with one another to apply the concepts they’ve learned. And a considerable number are turning to makerspaces as a solution.
A Response to “Challenging Traditional Assumptions and Rethinking Learning Spaces” from the Book Learning Spaces
The idea that environments themselves significantly impact learning is a relatively new concept. Previously, discussions on how to improve classroom activity focused primarily on methods of teaching. The book Learning Spaces by Diana B. Oblinger challenges these old ideas and ways of thinking by shifting the focus away from simply what teachers and students are doing in the classroom and stepping back and examining the classroom as a whole. We are encouraged to consider how the design and composition of learning environments impact students, classroom culture, and the learning process.