An effective education environment combines a healthy dose of the physical space with the social aspect of the learning process. It's not enough to stick students at a desk for hours on end. Rather, creating classrooms and common areas that have flow and flexibility will provide opportunities for students and teachers to work in new ways. Try out these easy methods for incorporating a collaborative touchdown area or two in your school.
Flexibility is the key to collaborative success. The furniture you choose to outfit your touchdown area should be modular enough to facilitate a wide number of projects and a variety of student working styles. Although collaborative style learning spaces are made to foster things like class presentations and group projects, group work is rarely 100% collaborative. Instead, most groups may get together in the beginning stages of a project, break out to do focused individual work, then come back together for critique and further communicate. Due to the need for collaborative furniture to suit both the needs of individual work and group work, furniture should either be large and varied enough to support a range of work or it should be easy enough for students to move around the classroom on their own.
Eliminate Assigned Seating
You may choose whether or not to enforce assigned seating at your student desks, but we recommend keeping some level of student choice in the matter when it comes to your collaborative spaces. Collaborative touchdown areas are places wherein minimal teacher supervision makes way for an increase in freedom, allowing students to decide for themselves what they will accomplish and how they will accomplish it. Allow students to gather where they choose and make some of their collaborative decisions on their own.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Other than getting students together, one of the greatest benefits of touchdown spaces is the way they work with and enhance classroom use of technology. While things like projectors and smartboards are fine for instructing large groups, they have their limitations. But with a collaborative atmosphere, better forms of technology can be more easily incorporated. From providing individual students with their own tablets to allowing small groups to gather around a laptop, a greater range of freedom is offered when the ratio of students to devices is more closely matched.
Quick Tips for Using Collaboration Touchdown Spaces
1. Set up the space to facilitate individual work, roundtable discussion and large group lectures
2. Allow students the freedom to choose where they sit and how they work
3. Incorporate the right technology into the space to support active group and individual work