Elevating Education: Design Trends

In many ways, classrooms as we might remember them are gone, or they are at least on their way out. And not just because design trends are everchanging—things like advancements in technology and additional research about how design impacts end users (students, staff, and visitors for our purposes) seem even more prominent since the pandemic turned everything upside down four years ago. With that, let’s jump right into a couple of our favorite current trends in educational design.

Flexible and hybrid learning
As a person without children (Hi! I’m CS’ technical writer, and I get to contribute to the blog, too!), I must admit that I had not fully considered the ways in which hybrid working in an office and hybrid learning in a school are similar. But it makes perfect sense. While students, particularly K-12, are unlikely to have the option to select days when they learn from home, there are instances when they will need to complete their school day while not physically present at school. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of their peers or teachers are participating remotely on the same days, so we are seeing classrooms outfitted for online interaction more than they ever have been in the past.

Acrovyn Wall Covering Children Playroom Set

Separate from hybrid learning but related, flexible learning aims to provide a range of spaces within schools that allow for various teaching and studying methods. This means optimizing some areas where students can work together and others that facilitate effective independent study. For younger kids, flexible learning might be as simple as having an area where they can sit comfortably on the floor or in beanbag chairs. As students advance to higher grade levels, flexible learning can get pretty cool, and, in some cases, may be reminiscent of college campus design. Instead of plunking students down in rows of desks all day, they’re given access to collaborative areas where they can congregate for group projects. In some cases, these collaborative spaces are multi-purpose and can also double as dining areas.

On the flip side, stations for working independently teach students to work without direct supervision. When picturing independent workstations, you may be reminded of the small cubbies or pods historically seen in libraries and designed to boost concentration. Meant to acknowledge students’ needs for variety, different learning styles, and increased autonomy, flexible learning is one great way to prepare students for university life and, eventually, the workplace.

Bridgeland HS_6.jpg

Biophilic design
In general, access to nature provides humans with a wealth of advantages. For schools, incorporating natural elements benefits everyone in the building—stress reduction, increased productivity, and even enhanced cognitive function (things like attention span, memory, and creativity) can all be achieved in part with biophilic design. While this design philosophy can include elements that require relatively more maintenance, like living walls or vertical gardens, it can also be as simple as being intentional about how much natural light enters the building. Products like sun control solutions help balance the desire for sunlight inside with the need to avoid solar heat gain. In turn, energy costs may decrease.

Bertschi School Pedigrid.tif

If your school wants to start smaller, utilizing photos of nature or nature-inspired patterns is another useful strategy. Instead of affixing posters or photos to the wall, turn your walls into murals with custom Acrovyn® wall protection to display any graphic you can think of while keeping your walls secure. (Another advantage of using Acrovyn—its cleanability. This doesn’t directly relate to biophilic design, but it could help keep your students healthy and save money on maintenance, so learn more here.) Regardless of your specific design choices, adding natural elements will support students’ well-being and academic performance in ways that could pleasantly surprise you.

At the end of the day, we just want students to feel engaged and excited to learn. Browse our education page to view all the ways we can contribute to a positive school experience for your students and staff, and be sure to view the new brochure.

Next Blog Post

Filling the Gap: Projects After the Fact—What Does Resiliency Look Like?

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