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School Design Ideas that Personalize Learning for Students

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Adaptive Environments that Teach Effectively

As architectural environments become increasingly responsive, they gain ability to change and become more personalized as they meet the needs of their occupants. For students, this can bring big benefits as innovative school design ideas pull from an adaptive architectural design approach.

‍Image Credit: © Cherries | Fotolia

For example, what if a school architecture can adjust itself to meet the needs of its ever-changing classrooms that aim for better learning experience, retention and application for students? Within such an adaptive school, different classrooms could morph for different subjects, teaching styles, learning styles and/or student age. In this case, a science room’s architecture would be sensorially different from a literature room’s architecture – yet, they could exist in the same space.

Design Variables that Make Learning Memorable

Of course, equipment (the room’s hardware) could flex and aspects like lighting, temperature, nature views, and even sound would need to flex to feed the senses of students who are learning different subjects within a space at different times. Furthermore, the micro-architectures within the classroom could adapt – to instantly change other aspects like furniture layout and ergonomics, computerized classroom kiosks for collaboration or independent work, and teacher presentation/mentoring stations for different kinds of teacher-to-student instruction.

School design ideas that personalize learning for students bring greater advantages as compared to a one-size-fits-all environment. By allowing a classroom environment to flex and adapt to the real-time needs of its students, it personalizes learning which results in greater retention. You see, when learning material is taught within an optimized context, a student can have increased emotional connection and association for better recall and later application. So, how does the environment contribute to all of this?

Sensing to Contribute to the Way Students Learn

An environment can sense when students are getting fatigued, bored or simply overwhelmed by information. Different school design ideas can respond in different ways to these challenges – for example, lighting, temperature, acoustics, spatial micro-architecture configuration, and nature integration can shift to optimize an environment for increased student alertness, focus, attention and memory.

The more a designer knows about the students who will learn within a classroom, the better the adaptive architecture. By allowing the environment to adapt to the ever-changing needs that make up the student population of a school, the more conducive the learning will be – and the better able students will be to rise to their optimum potentials. This does not mean that students should not work together, or solve an overarching problem – but it does mean that what a student learns has more personalized meaning for their current understanding and future application. Both of these are key to helping students grow holistically in a happy, safe and healthy manner.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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