How to create educational spaces that drive wellbeing and attainment.

September 15, 2016    Andrew Peers     ,

Educators can learn much from the world of commerce and how it has made workspaces inspiring, motivating and creative in order to derive the most value from staff.

So much so that schools, colleges and universities are increasingly looking to big businesses for ideas and guidance on how best to approach the design of their learning environments.

The design of education buildings and spaces should hold a mirror up to the way the education system works. Teachers are students are not just occupiers of the space. They are the lifeblood, determining if and how it works.

Educational spaces must for cater for a variety of learning methods, promote inclusion and shared values, deliver real experiences and supports social engagement. It is the combined effect of these factors that will instil students with the positive skills, value and expectations they need to thrive. That’s what will create a work ready and work-hungry next generation.

Here are four tips to ensure a learning environment that motivates, inspires and empowers:

Put your space to work for you.

All businesses understand the important of making every square foot count, particularly when office space can cost up to £100 per square foot in high profile city centre locations. The lesson for educators is to identify those spaces that are underperforming or being under-used and find new ways to put the space to work. Perhaps un-used corridor space could become a breakout space, or an inspiring quiet area for lone working and reading. Or perhaps you could find ways to introduce more flexibility into all of your spaces so they can serve a wider set of needs for longer portions of the day.

Think about the work.

Employers understand the need to provide different spaces to suit the different tasks that are being performed. Workspaces are designed around the work that needs to be done so if the business has a project team mentality you might find lots of space, furniture and resources to aid collaborative working. Or if the finance department regularly works with account management they’ll be located next to each other.

This isn’t an alien idea to educators, after all science labs and art rooms have the space and facilities to support those very specific subjects. But think more closely about the work that’s been given to students. If there’s lots of individual and contemplative work ensure there are spaces away from the hubbub to support that. If group presentations are required give them spaces that allow them collaborate, chat and create.

Know your audience.

It’s now widely accepted that work doesn’t have to be done at a desk certain tasks might be sited to a different setting such as a private pod, a canteen space, a bank of sofas or a meeting rooms. By creating variety employees feel empowered and trusted to make the right choice for them. Apply this learning in your education spaces and you can improve engagement, motivation, trust and productivity with ease.

Tell your story.

We all like to feel like we belong to something. Big businesses do this well. They understand the value of creating a common set of goals and how bringing their ethics, values and brand to life improves employee engagement. Adopt the same approach in your learning spaces through the use of colour, graphics and design. Find ways to express your identity and tell your story – it will unify your student body and give you ways to differentiate your learning establishment too.

Modern educational environments need to provide an ever-widening range of generate and specialist settings to support a wide variety of subjects, learning styles and activities. Technology has changed the way we learn, work and socialise. Its effect is all encompassing so it’s no surprise that it is also determining the very fabric of the buildings and spaces that future generations will learn in. What’s clear is that as new educational establishments are born, educators have an invaluable role to play in informing their design and maximising their potential.

To find out more about the education revolution, download our whitepaper When Education and the Workplace Collide, which is full of guidance and advice:

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