Recap of the Creating 21st Century Learning Spaces Workshop at West Liberty University

“There are three teachers of children: adults, other children, and their physical environment.” – Loris Malaguzzi, Founder of the Reggio Emilia approach

In September, Lou Karas, Director of Center for Arts and Education at West Liberty University, extended an invitation to the Remake Learning Network to attend a workshop on creating 21st century learning spaces. With support from The Benedum Foundation, WLU is working to rethink the design of educational learning environments to improve learning spaces.

The workshop was presented by The Third Teacher+, an educational design consultancy and global architecture firm. The consultancy’s collaborative research experience resulted in a book, The Third Teacher, about the ways in which design directly impacts teaching and learning, including 79 actionable ways to use design to improve learning environments. Workshop attendees were given a design challenge, and Patricia Croft, Executive Director of Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley, reflected that the group’s “combined knowledge led to some unforeseen, innovative solutions.”

Learning Innovation Strategist Sunanna Chand was inspired by the inclusive, actionable ideas presented at the workshop: “It was interesting to see how Third Teacher takes educators through the process of re-imagining their own spaces, and then gives concrete examples of how schools have implemented significant changes on a small budget while including families and communities in the process.”

Select workshop attendees will receive support from West Liberty University to remake their own classrooms this school year using the techniques they learned.

Ready to take action and remake your learning space? Here are six no and low cost improvements:

  1. Declutter physical space to help with cognitive load
    Kellie Meyer, Principal at Pittsburgh Montessori, suggested an approach to tackling classroom decluttering by “getting down to their [child’s] height, at their eye level, to see from their perspective, what the room looks like.”
  2. Be equipped for different modalities of learning on demand
    Do you have responsive materials and spaces designed to meet the varying needs of  your learners?
  3. Better utilize storage
    Are your everyday learning tools easily access while the occasional tools are stored appropriately?
  4. Consider classroom circulation
    How do students and the educator move around the space? Can this be improved simply by rearranging?
  5. Use color thoughtfully
    Painting classroom walls can make a big difference
  6. Encourage collaborative, creative thinking
    For under $15, you can make a giant whiteboard to serve as creative thinking space

More resources to check out:




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Published October 08, 2015