High-Profile Focus: Educational Facilities
Implementing 21st Century Learning Environments
by F. Michael Ayles Technology powers 21st century learning environments for both students and educators, providing them with the digital tools they need to keep pace with a constantly evolving world. A wealth of resources is now available at the click of a button, broadening educational boundaries and stimulating creativity and curiosity. If incorporated proactively, technology can be a mechanism that fosters an effective student-teacher relationship and allows students to work both independently and collaboratively in spaces that are designed to deliver the most efficient modes of digital learning possible. For instance, media center design has changed immensely since the implementation of computer technology into public school education in the 1980’s. The space that was once known as the school ‘library’ is now a central technological resource hub
and group collaboration space for the entire student population. The media center is often the cornerstone of an educational facility, and it has been a focal point in the design of all our school projects. An educational approach that is now being integrated into many school systems is a STEAM-based curriculum, one that is focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This requires a 21st century learning environment for successful implementation, taking into consideration the creative thinking and problem solving
An educational approach that is now being integrated into many school systems is a STEAM-based curriculum, one that is focused on science, technology, engineering, art, and math. This requires a 21st century learning environment for successful implementation, taking into consideration the creative thinking and problem solving mindset teachers now have in their approach to the classroom space. mindset teachers now have in their approach to the classroom space.
Exterior view of the media center at Orville Platt High School in Meriden, Conn. / Photo by Paul Burk Photography
In today’s school building design process, technology is infused throughout the facility and must be addressed from the early stages of program element selection to the final adoption and installation of infrastructure that supports those elements. Power must be available on a much greater level than ever before, wireless capability enhancement must be evaluated and easily expandable, and devices must have the flexibility to be both stowed and protected from the more creative aspects of the art portion of the STEAM program. The educational facility has evolved
over time, reflecting changes in society, technology, and new sensitivities to our environment. We must build in a way that is practical both for today’s world, and for our children tomorrow. With this comes the technological advancements that have changed the way we all work and live, as well as how we design, construct, and maintain school buildings. Regardless of whether the school is an elementary school or a high school, three specific ideas are embedded in this type of 21st century learning continued to page 36
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