From connected devices to flexible furniture, today's classroom needs upgrades to support 21st century learning opportunities. Education has changed dramatically in recent decades, from an emphasis on memorizing facts to a focus on higher-order thinking and future-proof skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. Education has changed dramatically in recent decades, from an emphasis on memorizing facts to a focus on higher-order thinking and future-proof skills like critical thinking and problem solving. Along the way, universities have rushed to incorporate technology. First through independent computer labs and then through individual device initiatives and massive network updates. Esto ha dado lugar al ambiente moderno de aprendizaje.

However, in many cases, the classroom has remained stubbornly static. Many universities are engaged in traditional training with students sitting in rows of desks and a professor giving instruction on a whiteboard or projector screen in the front of the room. Muchas universidades se empeñan en la formación tradicional con estudiantes sentados en filas de escritorios y un profesor impartiendo instrucción en una pizarra o pantalla de proyector en el frente de la sala.

In a modern learning environment, flexible classroom spaces organically integrate technology, help teachers better engage students, and facilitate the combination of independent learning. Small groups are formed and the entire class is considered essential to student success. Se forman grupos pequeños y toda la clase se considera esencial para el éxito de los estudiantes.

Typically, a modern learning environment incorporates three key elements: connected devices; audiovisual tools and useful furniture. These elements allow students to learn in different ways at different times. Estos elementos permiten a los estudiantes aprender de diferentes maneras en diferentes momentos.

Traditional Design and Modern Learning Environment

The traditional classroom design that served as a de facto model for over a century. The desks arranged in rows facing the front of the room worked well for when classroom instruction was primarily classroom-wide instruction taught by the teacher. But teaching and learning have evolved dramatically in recent decades. Learning environments must also change if they are to support these activities effectively. Los escritorios dispuestos en filas mirando hacia el frente de la sala, funcionó bien para cuando la instrucción en el aula era principalmente la instrucción de toda la clase impartida por el profesor. Pero la enseñanza y el aprendizaje han evolucionado dramáticamente en las últimas décadas. Los entornos de aprendizaje también deben cambiar si van a apoyar estas actividades de manera efectiva.

Rather than depending on teachers as the primary source of knowledge in the classroom, students take charge of their own learning. Teachers are helping guide this process. Additionally, students are researching, finding, and synthesizing information for themselves. They demonstrate their learning by working with their peers to create new products and ideas. Los profesores están ayudando a guiar este proceso. Además, los estudiantes están investigando, encontrando y sintetizando información por sí mismos. Demuestran su aprendizaje trabajando con sus compañeros para crear nuevos productos e ideas.

Teachers and Students Learning

Throughout all of these activities, teachers are orchestrating student learning with a combination of whole group, small group, and individual instruction. Teachers and students frequently switch between these different modes, depending on which one seems most appropriate for the task at hand. This process must occur quickly and smoothly to maximize learning time. Los maestros y los estudiantes cambian con frecuencia entre estos diferentes modos, dependiendo de cuál parezca más apropiado para la tarea en cuestión. Este proceso debe ocurrir rápida y sin problemas para maximizar el tiempo de aprendizaje.

The modern learning environment demonstrates that as learning becomes more active, it becomes more student-centered. According to Ortiz (2004), students need learning environments that are as dynamic as the education they are experiencing. They need learning spaces that are highly flexible and adaptable to multiple needs, spaces that engage and inspire them. Según Ortiz (2004), los alumnos necesitan entornos de aprendizaje que sean tan dinámicos como la educación que están experimentando. Necesitan espacios de aprendizaje que sean altamente flexibles y adaptables a múltiples necesidades, espacios que los involucren y los inspiren.

Three reasons why students need modern learning environments

Students need critical 21st century skills

The skills students will need when they graduate are not the same as a generation ago. The nature of work is now radically different. Automation and outsourcing are replacing lower-grade jobs. Students will need more sophisticated skills than cannot be learned just by sitting down and receiving information. Developing these skills requires more active forms of learning. In these, students are investigating, discussing, analyzing, collaborating and creating new knowledge for themselves.

This creates the modern learning environment. La naturaleza del trabajo ahora es radicalmente diferente. La automatización y la subcontratación están reemplazando los trabajos de menor calificación. Los estudiantes necesitarán habilidades más sofisticadas que las que no se pueden aprender con solo sentarse y recibir información. El desarrollo de estas habilidades requiere formas más activas de aprendizaje. En estas los estudiantes están investigando, discutiendo, analizando, colaborando y creando nuevos conocimientos por sí mismos. Se crea así el ambiente moderno de aprendizaje.

Teachers need to use flexible learning strategies.

Educators are tasked with meeting a wide range of student needs. No two students are the same and each learns differently. To meet the diverse needs of all students, teachers are designing powerful classroom experiences. These are aligned with the Universal Design for Learning framework. Students are provided with multiple ways to participate in lessons, acquire new knowledge, and demonstrate their learning. No hay dos estudiantes iguales y cada quien aprende de manera diferente.

Student expectations have changed.

As the skills students need for success are changing, teachers seek to meet a wide range of learning needs. Technology is also changing the way students learn at home, and therefore how they hope to learn when they are in school.

The Internet has opened up a whole world of information to students. Today's students are used to using the web for self-directed learning. Powerful technologies now allow them to develop, edit, publish, and share their own work. Students spend their free time searching for information on their own. Plus they connect with online friends to work on projects together and exercise their creativity.

What are modern learning environments like?

A modern learning environment can take many different shapes, sizes, styles, and themes. However, according to Hernández, González and Muñoz (2014), there are three main things that all modern learning environments will have in common when successfully incorporated.

Effective Teachers: Teachers must be able to create meaningful connections with their students. They must also have the tools they need to make an impact.

Engaged Students: Students deserve learning environments created to meet the needs of their individual learning styles. Students should feel committed and supported when they are in college.

Collaborative learning: The best learning occurs when students and teachers can build strong connections. And the furniture in their classrooms should help them make those connections, not retain them.

Why are these 21st century learning environments more effective?

Today's learning environments look very different from what they did even just 10 years ago. Common rows of desks are retiring and teachers constantly move and encourage engagement rather than being idle and lecturing. This is because many studies have found that student achievement increases when we embrace flexibility. Similarly, by using modern technology and techniques to improve the classroom experience.

With a modern learning environment of the 21st century, we will obtain a space that directly encourages students to work collaboratively. As a result, these young people will be ahead of their time in mastering the skills that will be necessary for these unknown jobs of the future.

Benefits of the Modern Learning Environment

Expanding the understanding of ideal learning environments for modern students will help:

  • Engage students by restructuring their courses
  • Increase student motivation by diversifying teaching practices.
  • Improve student learning and satisfaction by addressing their expectations.
  • Promote student success with proven strategies.

The redesign efforts will help engage and motivate students like never before, and the entire campus community will reap the benefits. As student outcomes improve, faculty morale and overall institutional success will also improve.

College Desertion

Flexible furniture provides high impact benefits

The classrooms that most of us grew up with are a thing of the past. Worksheets and one-on-one instruction have given way to project-based learning, flexible seating, and one-on-one instruction. But, although instructional methods have changed, many times the physical spaces that support students have not.

Educators face trying to rearrange classrooms that have bulky, heavy, and stationary furniture that is, on average, 48 years old. A growing body of research indicates that reinventing our students' learning spaces and incorporating modern, flexible furniture can have far-reaching benefits. These range from better health to better academic performance.

Although classroom furniture may seem like a decidedly low-tech solution, it can be a high-impact tool that literally puts students in the correct learning posture. According to Rodríguez and López (2012), a modern learning environment requires a flexible and agile physical configuration that will accommodate both independent and group work, and one in which students can learn in a way that they feel comfortable and help them focus.

Perhaps the simplest example of this is the standing desk, which gives students a break from sitting all day, increases alertness, and even helps burn calories. Other types of convertible furniture quickly transform from individual workstations into group meeting spaces. Many furniture options now come equipped with three-terminal or USB charging ports, helping students keep their devices on all day.

A 21st century classroom should encourage both solitary and community work. Furniture and tools within the room should be mobile to encourage easy transitions between different teaching and learning styles. With mobile chairs and desks in the classroom, students can collaborate and form groups, and then quickly switch to independent work when needed.

What does recent research say about the Modern Learning Environment?

Below are four key findings from recent research on the learning environment:

Educators teach differently when the classroom environment changes

According to research by the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Minnesota, classroom design can affect the way instructors teach, even when they deliberately try not to allow it.

In the study, the teacher was asked to provide instruction using exactly the same methods in both a traditional classroom and an active learning environment (a mobile, flexible, technology-rich classroom). His attempts to provide the same instruction failed, as he gave more lectures in the traditional classroom and further promoted discussion in the active learning environment. These results indicate that the arrangement of classroom furniture alone can promote student-centered teaching.

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Impact on learning outcomes

Research from the Center for Educational Innovation also looked at the expected outcomes for students in traditional classrooms versus active learning classrooms. In one study, participants with lower scores were placed in an active learning environment, and researchers predicted that their scores would also be lower. Surprisingly, they performed as well as their high-scoring peers who were taught in a traditional setting.

Another study compared participants who were taught in a large theater classroom three days a week with those who met once a week. A smaller and more active learning environment was provided to work on problem solving and watch recorded lectures. The last group of students performed as well as or better than their peers who met three times as much in the traditional setting, indicating the extent of the impact working in active learning environments has on learning outcomes.

And, as educators noted in the report "The Impact of Learning Spaces on Student Success," one of the biggest results they saw from their learning space renovations was the positive effect it had on school culture and student participation. This finding underscores the importance of creating high-impact learning spaces, since student participation is the greatest indicator of academic success. And that is the greatest achievement of the modern learning environment.

Active learning environments promote healthier students and encourage academics

Flexible room layouts offering a variety of seating options, including stools that allow students to move and swing, and tables placed at a standing height, encourage students to get up and move throughout the day. In the same way, they help find seating arrangements that help them do their best work. This type of design not only promotes healthy habits, restlessness and movement that encourage active seating really help students focus better, especially Attention Deficit students.


Twenty-first century students are used to instantly accessing everything from movies to product reviews. Most are millennials, born between 1981 and 1999. Their life experiences have given them and their peers different expectations regarding their academic experience.

The more teachers can align the learning environments in their classrooms with student preferences, the more successful they will be at motivating and engaging students and promoting student learning. It draws on academic literature and current research to provide an overview of today's student culture and promote student success. And thus establish the modern learning environment.

The simple act of redesigning your learning environment will not guarantee its effectiveness. The voices of educators, flexible furniture and classrooms that allow activities have an important role. Every school and every classroom is unique, but with modern pedagogy combined with intentionally chosen furniture, they can be designed to support students now and in the future.

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Bibliographic references

Hernández, N., González, M y Muñoz, P. (2014). La planificación del aprendizaje colaborativo en entornos virtuales. Revista científica de comunicación y educación, 42 (21), 25-33. Madrid, España: A Coruña.

Ortiz E. (2004). Estrategias educativas y didácticas en la Educación Superior. Pedagogía Universitaria. 2004;IX(5):2.

Rodríguez, M. y López A. (2012). Entorno virtual de aprendizaje compartido en educación superior. Revista de Docencia Universitaria Vol.11 (1) enero-abril 2013, 411-428 ISSN: 1887-4592.

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