Although you’re not likely to bring in Italian rugs or French artwork to the classroom, the learning space is a very important aspect of effective teaching. Think about how science classrooms are arranged much differently than writing or math classrooms.
Design is an important factor to student success, but with more classrooms expanding online, it’s worth considering how the design of learning spaces should begin to expand as well.
More often than not, teachers utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) to incorporate an online component to their course. And while an LMS can be very effective in an online or hybrid course, you want to be careful not to forsake the notion of classroom design. Here’s what to consider for your learning space when using an LMS.
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but without good assignment organization, students don’t have a clear path to follow. A common route is to break the course down into modules and use folders to organize assignments relevant to each module.
But what if you offered other “options” to students in addition to modules? You could use folders to organize other resources where students aren’t required to do assignments in every folder. Instead, they could choose the one that is most interesting to them. Whichever format you choose, make sure there’s some sort of flow for students to follow.
Transform Discussion Boards
Discussion boards are a great way to assess if students are grasping foundational knowledge. It’s sort of a way to “show your work” particularly in disciplines other than math.
Typically, discussion board posts are rubric-focused and require a certain number of posts and responses. Instead of simply following traditional methods, consider transforming your discussion boards to forums. Give students the opportunity to join the conversations that are most comfortable for them. Think of it like a Facebook post—Facebook users scroll through their timelines all day and comment on the posts that spark interest. Imagine how incorporating a similar concept could transform the learning space.
Provide a Feedback Loop
Student surveys aren’t normally implemented at the K-12 level, but when you are designing your learning space, feedback can be the key to making sure the design is effective and efficient. Instead of giving out written surveys at the end of the course, create an area within the LMS for students to leave their comments. Make sure to encourage them to provide feedback by asking questions about the course design and allowing them to share how it helped them or how it might have stood in the way of their learning.
Your learning space—whether face-to-face, hybrid, or totally online—should be a comfortable place that empowers learning. With online elements, the design can sometimes be overlooked, but take some time to explore the existing design of your course and outline two to three ways you can make some home improvements. Who knew that interior design could play such a large role in the classroom?