The entrepreneurial journey is never a straight path. room2learn is no exception. Since our inception at a Hackathon in 2015, our business model has shifted from crowdsourcing to consulting to e-commerce to SaaS (Software as a Service). Some of these iterations have made it into the new guard while others made a trip to the prototype graveyard. Each pivot, however, has provided an opportunity for learning. Last week, our founders Jane and Grace had a chance to share these learnings in a seminar at the EdLab, the research arm of Columbia University’s Teachers College.
The seminar, clocking in at 90 minutes, can be found as a full-length video. Below, we’ve highlighted key topics, questions and comments for you!
Role of Classroom Spaces
[05:49] “Interesting to hear that classroom space can be a barrier to teaching”
Since children are spending 8+ hours a day in school, it is important that their environment make them feel like they’re worth investing in. The big-box classroom doesn’t consider students’ learning needs, and is too institutionalized for active learning to take place. We want to help teachers adapt their classroom spaces to increase engagement in the classroom.
Pedagogy of Classroom Spaces
[17:00] “I’d like to see some research on how colors/paint in schools impact students”
One of our past blog pieces talks about how to color your classroom, and below you’ll see quick tips on color, uploaded to room2learn.org by USC Rossier. The research shows that different colors have varying effects on students, and can be chosen based on the primary activities in a learning space. In fact, we can design based around what kids where to school. In schools where students don uniforms there is more flexibility in adding bright colors to the walls. In schools where students choose what to wear, and the colors and styles vary, young eyes can be easily overstimulated.
Challenges during Redesign Process
[12:57] “Bureaucracy really can be an enormous barrier to implementing good and healthy ideas in schools. It’s the thing that can’t be ignored when we look at how to find new ways of being progressive.”
During the purchasing process, it is necessary for the school to get approval from the state. We often work with public school districts, whose purchasing systems are not designed to welcome new vendors. We sometimes find misalignment between schools and districts, which can slow down the implementation process.
Proof behind Flexible Layouts
[06:46] “What happens to course content when it is shared and collaborated on rather than siloed on to solitary desks?”
This is a very interesting question! When the course content is shared and collaborated on, students have more power and voice in choosing how they learn. Grace shared the study she performed on her classroom, comparing a static layout, where students were assigned seats, versus a group layout, where the learning materials were distributed throughout classroom. Based on students’ self-reported ratings and teacher observations, the group or flexible layout increased collaboration by about 38% and increased creativity by about 54% (based on aggregated data).
Personal vs. Communal?
[45:27 ] “Is it possible to take every student’s learning needs into consideration when crafting a learning space? Where do you draw the limit?”
It is understandable that there might be varying needs in the classroom. room2learn is process-oriented; we care more about how a space caters to the specific learning activities of its community.
We invite educators and designers to join the room2learn.org community! Use it as a source of design inspiration and a tool to “hack” your space to make it more functional to your needs.
Thank you EdLab for hosting us!