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Must-Have Collaborative Learning Spaces

5 Must-Have Collaborative Learning Spaces for the 21st Century School

Makerspace for Collaborative Learning

Collaboration has always been an important skill for real-world success, but for some reason, it didn’t become a focus in the educational world until recent years. These days, collaboration has become quite the buzzword, but in this case, it reflects a real value that teachers are increasingly expected to develop in their students. While educational style can certainly promote collaborative learning with things like projects and group work, these must-have collaborative learning spaces will really make a difference.

  1. 1. Student Lounge - Teens thrive when they have an area filled with comfy seating. A lounge area shouldn’t just be for breaks, it can also be used as a genuine learning space. It is much easier for students to work together when they can really hear each other and see the notes and sketches that their group-mates are making. A lounge area full of couches and cozy chairs, lets a group really get comfortable with each other and brainstorm in a more relaxed setting. Sometimes the pressure and formality of a classroom can create a feeling of distance and stifle inspiration. An inviting lounge area is the perfect place to think as a team in a relaxed environment.

  2. 2. Media Center - Since today’s students do almost everything on the computer, you need a work space in which they can collaborate at comfortable computer workstations. While computer labs usually have straight rows of workstations, the open plan of a media center is particularly conducive to group work on the computers. By choosing the right tables which accommodate the computers and a group of students in the best way, you will ultimately be facilitating more successful collaborative learning.

  3. 3. Makerspace - When it comes to STEAM projects, an open space full of tools and materials is the best place for students to work. A makerspace is really conducive to any type of hands-on project, as long as there are workspaces which are large enough for a group of students to work together. With the flexible materials and no fixed set of rules determining how students should work there, the makerspace encourages the out-of-the-box thinking which collaborative learning often promotes as well. Putting together a group of students with lots of materials and an open-ended task can yield some unique results, when done in the proper place.

  4. 4. Collaborative Learning Zone - Unlike the spaces which were previously mentioned, the collaborative learning zone can be right inside the regular classroom. All you need to do to create one is take an empty corner, and add some comfortable seating and a table. You can send groups of students to work there during a regular lesson, which is great for differentiated learning and special assignments.

  5. 5. Private Study Room - Many university libraries have small rooms off to the side where students can meet to study in small groups. When students are asked to collaborate on a project, they might need a quiet enclosed space with a computer where they won’t be distracted by anyone outside of the group. This is an especially important space when it comes to crunch time and students really need to focus. Another great benefit of such a space is that it allows a teacher or acilitator to meet with the group and steer them in the right direction without the distraction of a classroom or library in the background.

Collaborative learning spaces are no longer a luxury which is only available in cutting-edge schools. They are a critical must-have for any educational institution which wants to promote one of the most important 21st century skills we can possibly give to our students.

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