I recently had the opportunity to participate in a really cool project at work. We are designing a learning space (nicknamed the “Learning Lounge” and “Greenroom”) for our instructional technologies presentations. The group we present to is an adult crowd and they possess a wide range of computer skills. We now present in a traditional classroom setting, lecture podium in the front, rows of seats for the class, and drab white cinder block walls. Now that I think back, my whole educational career (K-Graduate school) was inside drab white cinder block walls. Makes a student feel like they are in a prison, more than a learning environment.
We are now in the beginning phases of designing a learning lounge. Since the way we learn has changed dramatically (we are teaching the latest in technology) where we learn has to change as well. Our Learning Lounge will promote a more open space approach to a classroom design. We will be using couches as the seats and small open tables (like a TV tray) or laptop lap tables for desks. We feel that the learner will feel more connected with the technology (since they will be forced to handle the laptop-we are not using desktops) and that the open space will not make them feel confined and over burdened by the technology. The presentations will be projected on a wall and the couches will be facing the wall but slightly facing inward so the learners face each other and feel more like a community (and provide indirect comfort and support). We are setting up the furniture like a home entertainment design (w/ the projection screen in front like a TV). The walls are green. Green is a color for growth, and is associated with balance and harmony. The psychological effects of the color green are:
* Relaxing mentally as well as physically
* Helps alleviate depression, nervousness and anxiety
* Offers a sense of renewal, self-control and harmony (source: http://www.squidoo.com/colorexpert/)
We want our learners to feel comfortable and relaxed in a learning environment (we are aiming at making the space feel like home, thus using lamps w/ incandescent light). We are also incorporating an Eastern Zen theme to the lounge (to emphasis learning, growth, and renewal-may even have fake plants). We hope this new approach to learning is both fun and productive for us and our participants. Since we are in the beginning phase, I will keep you updated on any progress (and provide pictures!). This is a somewhat new trend to classroom design (we have a little more liberty than a traditional High School classroom), but we hope the work we put into the Learning Lounge will help our community grow and spark an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I’ll keep you posted! 🙂