Essentials Magazine Essentials Spring 2018 - Page 25

F 3 F 3 – Fixed, Flexible & Fluid Learning Spaces DR. LENNIE SCOTT-WEBBER, NCIDQ, AIA AFFILIATE It is argued here that flexibility is just one component of designing to support intended behaviors, and the design community perhaps interprets the word differently than the education community. Designing for flexibility is often the ‘go to’ for classroom solutions. A general understanding is that a flexible design “adapts to new situations,” and when incorporating it one is attempting to have a one-size-fits-all solution set up for a variety of teaching practices. It suggests if a flexible solution is used, all design issues are solved, and teaching practices are made easy no matter how one delivers one’s practice. Design solutions must support the users’ needs and intended behaviors — that’s a given. But do designers and educators speak the same language and have the same inference regarding terms? Let’s examine the design and teaching practices continuums along with what we know about how we learn, and then provide some linkages in terms of language and solutions. How we learn is being studied ever more intensely by brain scientists than ever before. We know so much more about how we learn, what it takes to stay focused and why engagement in one’s learning is key to overall student success according to research findings. That evidence indicates sitting still is not conducive to learning. We need to move to learn and we need to stand to stay focused longer. Research further argues it is OK for the mind to drift; in fact it must, as focusing for too long is just not possible. Our brains can truly focus for about 10-15 minutes and then need a break. Postural change helps us all particularly when we are working on computers and focusing or working on a particular problem; standing up, sitting down and lying down should all be considered. And the more we can connect students emotionally to the learning tasks/problems kinesthetically [through our senses] the more information is retained. As advanced learning designs supporting active learning increase and classrooms are replaced with ‘learning suites and maker spaces,’ we have the opportunity to challenge and invent a new language, bridging the perceived gap between design’s language and the educator’s. Thus, this article presents the 3 F’s, or F 3 – Fixed, Flexible and Fluid. The information shared here is an attempt to bridge a perceived gap in language between a design language and a teaching practice language. F 3 ’s are explained first from a design solution perspective and then from a teaching strategy one. This article suggests design solutions work within a continuum of “F 3 ”— Fixed, Flexible and Fluid (see Figure 1). It is this continuum that needs further explanation and understanding. Fig. 1. F 3 – Fixed, Flexible & Fluid. FIXED represents all of those items physically built into the infrastructure of a building. In other words, if you turned a building upside down those items would not fall out. Examples include cabinetry, bolted down seat- essentials | www.edmarket.org 25 F 3 F 3 – Fixed, Flexible & Fluid Learning Spaces DR. LENNIE SCOTT-WEBBER, NCIDQ, AIA AFFILIATE I t is argued here that flexibility is just one component of designing to support intended behaviors, and the design community perhaps inter- prets the word differently than the education community. Designing for flexibility is often the ‘go to’ for classroom solutions. A general understanding is that a flexible design “adapts to new situations,” and when incorporating it one is attempting to have a one-size-fits-all solution set up for a variety of teaching practices. It suggests if a flexible solution is used, all design issues are solved, and teaching practices are made easy no matter how one delivers one’s practice. Design solu- tions must support the users’ needs and intended behaviors — that’s a given. But do designers and educators speak the same language and have the same inference regarding terms? Let’s exam- ine the design and teaching practices continuums along with what we know about how we learn, and then provide some linkages in terms of language and solutions. How we learn is being studied ever more intensely by brain scientists than ever before. We know so much more about how we learn, what it takes to stay focused and why engagement in one’s learning is key to overall student success according to research findings. That evidence indicates sitting still is not conducive to learning. We need to move to learn and we need to stand to stay focused longer. 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