What Does Personalized Learning Mean for Educational Design?

One of the most important modern concepts in education today is “personalized learning.” As Education Week explains, the concept isn’t entirely clear and has many different practical applications. However, what is clear about personalized learning is that it centers the student as the most important subject in the classroom, which results in an emphasis on individual student learning styles, needs, and interests. 

Needless to say, educators everywhere are doing everything they can to follow this model, as it provides clear and proven results for students’ educational attainment, if properly applied of course. Personalized learning also has important implications for the way that classrooms are designed and organized, as well as the types of classroom tables and chairs that are appropriate to properly serve students’ educational needs. Let’s take a closer look at these design principles.

As Applied to Space

When personal learning principles are properly applied to classroom design, what we get is an emphasis on flexibility and movement, which inspires stimulation and heightened attention from students. As such, active learning spaces have become the new standard for teachers to keep their students engaged. Some students learn better in smaller groups, while some prefer to listen to the teacher, and yet others prefer quiet time on their own. By giving equal priority to each of these teaching styles, a teacher can see to each student’s specific needs.

Further, by keeping students constantly moving between activities, teachers can maximize student engagement and keep attention and concentration fresh. These principles help create an environment that acts as a “third teacher,” according to leaders in modern educational design.

All of this means that a classroom should be designed to allow for the constant movement and rearrangement of furniture, learning aids, screens, and other implements. Large open spaces that allow for creative rearrangements of furniture, and light, stackable chairs and desks are optimal for this type of dynamic learning environment.

Also, by segmenting different learning areas, teachers can organize students into regions that are best suited to individual preferences and interests.

Applied to Furniture

Speaking of furniture, the chairs and desks that students learn on should be configured for individual need as well. Ergonomic and fully adjustable chairs and desks allow students to be supported on a personalized basis. Posture and comfort are very important to the learning process. Cookie-cutter chairs that are uncomfortable only lead to slouching and fidgeting, which distracts and fatigues students, causing them to lose focus. 

Adjustable chairs allow students to configure furniture for their body types, allowing for better posture, movement, and comfort. Having these in place gives students better circulation, making their minds and bodies better-conditioned for learning. Standing desks are another useful element to have in the classroom, which allows students to stretch and keep moving. These desks too are best functional when they are fully adjustable and flexible.

In a group setting, collaborative furniture allows for arrangements that are readily configured for group learning tasks. Again, it is worth saying that while personalized learning is based on the individual, many students are best taught certain concepts in a group setting, and furniture that encourages social learning and participation can facilitate this easily.

Putting It All Together

As a cutting-edge educational practice, personalized learning is transforming classrooms around the world. This contrast is especially evident when considering how static classrooms that ignore individual learning styles are quickly becoming dated and emblematic of failures in dated educational theories.

The concept of a “third teacher” is often ignored in discussions of individual student needs and the design of the classroom itself must be considered just as much as the instructors themselves. With an eye for modern educational design principles, teachers can greatly augment the effectiveness of their teaching environments with flexible classroom layouts and ergonomic, adjustable furniture. With responsive design, education professionals can greatly influence their students’ educational attainments for the better.

Alexander G. Forrester is a freelance content writer from New Orleans. He started writing professionally in his early 30s. When he has nothing else to do at home, he can be found on the beach with his black lab, Louie.

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