Collaborative Learning Spaces

Collaborative learning spaces provide learners the opportunity to work together outside of the traditional classroom. Learning professionals need to consider the following key elements when adopting alternative classroom design to support collaborative learning. More and more organisations are adopting alternative classroom design to deliver effective learning and development.

What is a collaborative learning space?

Collaborative working requires a different type of classroom design that moves away from the traditional configuration of student facing the lectern or the desk of the teacher. Education institutions are embracing alternative classroom design that creates an environment, which favours collaborative activity between learners.

How do collaborative learning spaces work?

Designing collaborative learning spaces requires some renovation of existing rooms and in some cases an entirely new construction. One of the key considerations when designing collaborative learning spaces is seating arrangement, which may accommodate a variety of teaching methods. Trainers need to be able to move around between groups of learners, as well be able to instruct the class from anywhere within the room. The space is also designed in line with the types of technology used; projectors, whiteboards are part of the design plan.

Why are they significant?

Collaborative learning spaces are significant because they enable alternative pedagogies to come into play. These spaces are ideal

  • for hands on activities
  • mobile technologies
  • group discussion

Training in these environments allows learners to inquire and investigate by engaging in critical discussion with other learners. Learners and trainers, as a result, find this learning space a more positive experience.

What are the downsides?

Additional costs incurred with the design of collaborative learning spaces results from the faculty redesigning their curricula. Trainers should be included in the consultation phase of designing the designing as this they will be instructing in the space.
Technical support to teachers should as well training to understand the technology used to deliver learning material.

Where is it going?

The change towards collaborative learning will mean these spaces will be in demand. Organisations will adopt flexible room layouts that features:

  • excellent lighting
  • accessible power outlets
  • wireless
  • stackable chairs and tables

Learners bringing their own learning devices may even relieve the economic burden of organisations updating their out-dated hardware.

What are the implications for teaching and learning?

The rise in collaborative classrooms comes from research into what makes learning environments creative and interactive. The implications for learning and development in collaborative learning spaces empowers learners to take ownership of their learning by engaging in critical thinking with colleagues in a space that enables the learners to do so. Trainers are able to design interactive learning modules that access a number of traditional and innovative learning technologies that will help facilitate the learning experience.