What is a dynamic learning environment?
Flexible learning environments should enable students to do everything from independent study to engaging in lively group discussions, sometimes in the same place and at the same time. Of course, this is flexibility, but what it looks like in practice can vary.
In any dynamic learning environment, there will be opportunities for students to collaborate in small groups or, as in a traditional classroom, to listen to a professor deliver a lecture. Because distance learning is ubiquitous, there should be opportunities for students to connect with their group members who are not in the same physical location through video displays and collaboration tools.
Flexibility should also be extended to all types of subjects that can be offered in that department. This takes different forms. Some universities choose classrooms that can efficiently accommodate in-person lectures, blended learning, and fully distance learning in one location. Others, such as the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), have created specific classroom “personas” that they identify as four distinct interests.
Still other universities have gotten more creative, stacking a cart with flexible teaching tools that one can roll from classroom to classroom, said Kat Pelletier, director of the Teaching and Learning Program at EDUCAUSE.
“The faculty can just plug and go,” she says. “Obviously, having the more proven technology on the wall has advantages, but having more modular options also allows flexibility and faculty can create what they want based on the technology.”
See: See how one university designed future-focused learning spaces.
How to build dynamic learning environments?
Designing a flexible learning space in higher education starts with furniture. From listening to lectures to arguing with classmates or burying their noses in textbooks, students’ chairs cannot be blocked from the floor.
Students in a flexible classroom are typically seated around pods and tables, allowing the professor to flow through the space and work one-on-one with students as needed. It’s the kind of setup that allows for personalized, adaptive learning if teachers choose to employ that method.