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How to Encourage Blended Learning Through Classroom Design

Posted on Jan 9, 2017, by Mike Patrick

Blended learning programs combine online learning with traditional, classroom-based teaching. Technology becomes increasingly important in blended learning programs, for students and teachers alike.

Unfortunately, the majority of schools aren’t equipped to meet today’s technological requirements. As technology becomes more integral in school curriculums, many classrooms will require a renovation to provide students with access to the technology they require in class.

Today, I’m sharing four classroom design tips to facilitate blended learning.

Featured image: Raymond Elementary School, Franksville, Wisconsin, USA. Design firm: Eppstein Uhen Architects.

1) Improve Internet Access

Technology is a crucial element of blended learning programs, and a key part of this is internet connectivity: You need a strong, secure Wi-Fi connection that your students can use in class. Without access to Wi-Fi at school, it will be impossible for students to engage with the online elements of their blended learning program.

In recent years, schools have used dedicated computer labs for online learning. However, as technology use in classrooms increases, it’s more practical to use normal classrooms and access course materials on laptops or tablets that connect wirelessly, instead of using desktop computers connected to the school network.

This may require an upgrade to your school’s internet connection, or may be as simple as installing Wi-Fi boosters to improve Wi-Fi access in all classrooms.

2) Provide Access to Power Outlets

If your students are going to be using more technology in the classroom for their blended learning programs, you’ll need a way to power it.

However, most classrooms aren’t designed to provide access to power supplies throughout the classroom – you may have a few sockets around the edge of the room, or just a few at the front for the teacher to use. Therefore, it is crucial to improve access to power outlets throughout the classroom.

If you’re doing a full classroom renovation, consider having power sockets embedded in the floor. Alternatively, a less disruptive and less costly option can be found with power distribution products, which use carpet tiles to conceal thin tracks that distribute power throughout a classroom.

3) Provide Technology for Students

With the use technology being the most important part of a blended learning program, and the biggest change from traditional, classroom-only learning, it’s important to provide access to technology for your students to use in class.

Many schools will purchase laptops or tablets for students to use during class time. This is essential, because it means that all students will have equal opportunities to engage with the online learning materials.

4) Facilitate Flexible Classroom Layouts

As well as technological flexibility, the layout of your classroom is extremely important. You will want to be able to move between a traditional, lecture-based classroom set-up to a more informal layout that facilitates group discussion and project work.

Therefore, you need to equip your classroom to facilitate flexible layouts. The types of desks and chairs will impact how easy it is for you to change the classroom layout. It’s becoming increasingly popular for classrooms to be equipped with desks on wheels, such as the Steelcase Akira table, which is easy to move around and rearrange.

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Mike Patrick

Written by Mike Patrick