Sol Harris Day Architecture

A National View of 21st Century Learning

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
By Regina Erdman, Interior Designer
In Design

A National View of 21st Century Learning

We've seen what 21st century, student-centered learning means to our immediate surroundings of NE Ohio, but what does it mean to those beyond that footprint? On a recent trip hosted by VS America, I had the opportunity to experience two schools in Charlotte, North Carolina that utilize design elements reminiscent of 21st century design - maybe even pushing the boundary into what we can expect for the upcoming century. Along with touring schools, I had the pleasure of chatting with teachers, administrators, and designers from Indiana, Georgia, and North Carolina to gain insight into how they view the delivery and receival of education.

The first school to touch on is a STEM school that is part of a three building campus housing K-12. Built in 2006, the STEM building looks beyond the traditional double loaded corridor with classroom's full of metal book box desks and rigid chairs. Instead, there is a refreshing feel with a translucent panel façade that allows diffused natural light to flood through the space. Each room has an overhead door that opens to the exterior to allow the classroom to spill out into nature. The desks are no longer bulky metal, but rather a light, mobile table with various styles and heights of seating. What would be a traditional corridor is actually an enlarged learning space with raw concrete floors, whiteboard walls and various work zones to give it a true "Maker Space" feel. Students can use this extension of the classroom for small group work or class size demonstrations - even going as far as using the staircase as an egg drop challenge area. With a non-traditional approach, students have the potential to thrive in a learning environment geared for interaction and experimentation in the STEM world.

A National View of 21st Century Learning

The next school, a Charter school, is a model of how 21st century furniture can transform a space into any type of environment needed for learning. The new school occupies what were four separate buildings - office spaces, a yoga studio, and an architectural firm. The original interior layouts of the buildings remain, inherently breaking the bounds of a traditional school design. To accommodate the unusual architectural layout, appropriate mobile furniture is used to define classroom space. Being mobile, everything can be transformed for whatever purpose the school needs. The furniture facilitates active learning and flexibility of space without being limited within built walls. While there, I saw teachers team-teaching a lesson and then transition to a focused learning by pulling mobile storage units over to create an "enclosed" space. Students were sitting in chairs, bean bags, lounge seats, and even some were lying right on the carpeted floor for a more informal break-out with friends. Students were learning at a pace that suited their individual need in a way they found most comfortable. The combination of architecture and 21st century furniture takes this school to another level of learning that breaks the mold of what most are accustomed to, opening the door for numerous possibilities.

A National View of 21st Century Learning

21st century learning is gaining momentum in all areas of the country, not just our little corner of NE Ohio. There are many overlapping characteristics that were seen in the schools I visited and some others that are not so similar, but have a place for each community nonetheless. Overall, my take-away of both NE Ohio design and design in North Carolina is that a mixture of learning environments along with student/teacher choice creates a strong atmosphere for exceptional potential that can take our students to the next level of learning.

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K-12

Alliance City SchoolsAshland County-West Holmes Career CenterCanton City SchoolsCarrollton Exempted Village SchoolsCentral Catholic High SchoolChippewa Local SchoolsCrestwood Local SchoolsCuyahoga Valley Christian AcademyGreen Local Schools (Smithville, Ohio)Indian Creek Local SchoolsJackson Local SchoolsLake Local SchoolsMarlington Local SchoolsMassillon City SchoolsNorth Canton City SchoolsNorthwest Local SchoolsOsnaburg Local SchoolsPerry Local SchoolsRG Drage Career Technical CenterRootstown Local SchoolsSandy Valley Local SchoolsSolon City SchoolsStark County Board of Developmental DisabilitiesStrasburg-Franklin Local SchoolsTallmadge City SchoolsTriway Local SchoolsWayne County Schools

Higher Education

Ashland UniversityBethany CollegeBluffton UniversityThe College of WoosterGrove City CollegeIndiana Wesleyan UniversityKent State UniversityKenyon CollegeMalone UniversityMount Vernon Nazarene UniversityNorth Central State CollegeStark State CollegeThe Ohio State UniversityUniversity of AkronUniversity of Mount UnionWalsh UniversityWashington State Community College

Corporate

3D Business AcceleratorAdvanced Storage SystemsAirtex ProductsAkron-Canton AirportAmerimar Enterprises, Inc.ASC IndustriesBair's PowersportsBAM Healthy CuisineBekaertBridgestone AmericasCampbell Oil CompanyCutler RealtorsDeHoff DevelopmentDeVille DevelopmentsDiebold NixdorfDix CommunicationsDowntown FordEnvironmental Design GroupFedex Custom CriticalFirst MeritGE CapitalGoddard SchoolsGreat Lakes ConstructionHampton InnIn The RoundKiko Auctioneers and RealtorsLean DogLeopard Town TwirlersLG FuelNational Inventors Hall of FameNickles BakeryPegasus FarmPetitti Garden CenterPenske TruckProgressive ChryslerProgressive InsurancePro Car Automotive GroupPro Football Hall of FameS.D. Myers IndustriesSecuritas Electronic SecuritySterling JewelersThe Timken CompanyUnited Glass and Panel SystemsYoung Truck

Recreation

Alliance Family YMCABrookside Country ClubBucyrus Area YMCACambridge YMCACampCarl.lifeCongress Lake Country ClubEric Snow YMCA (Downtown Canton)Ernie's Bicycle ShopFirestone Country ClubGeauga Park DistrictGlenmoor Country ClubLakota YMCAMassillon Boys & Girls ClubMinerva YMCAMount Vernon YMCAMuskingum Watershed Conservancy DistrictNorth Canton YMCAParamount Tennis ClubPaul & Carol David YMCA (Jackson)Shady Hallow Country ClubSilver Lake Country ClubStark ParksStark County Wilderness CenterTiffin Community YMCATuscarawus County YMCAYMCA of Central Stark County

Other

Wooly Pig Farm BreweryAultman FoundationAultman HospitalChapel Hill Retirement CommunityGastroenterology SpecialistsThe Lenzy Family InstituteMeniru Medical OfficesRose Lane Nursing & RehabilitationScriptShop PharmacyShady Lawn Nursing & RehabilitationSt. Lukes Lutheran HomeThe Pines Lakeside TherapyTraditions at Bath Road Nursing HomeTrillium Family SolutionsUnion HospitalWooster Community HospitalAkron Community FoundationArtsinStarkBolivar Volunteer Fire DepartmentBuckeye Council of AmericaCanton Township FireCarroll County District LibraryCarroll County TransitThe Chapel in AkronChrist Community Chapel in HudsonCity of WoosterFirst Friends ChurchGrace United Methodist ChurchGreentown United Methodist ChurchSeville-Guilford Township Fire and EMSJackson TownshipHoly Trinity Greek Orthodox ChurchLiberty Development CompanyLouisville Public LibraryMassillon Fire DepartmentMassillon MuseumMassillon Public LibraryMinerva Champer of CommercePerry Township Police DepartmentPlain Township Fire DepartmentSmithville Fire DepartmentSt. Mary's Catholic ChurchSt. Michael the Archangel ParishSt. Michael Lutheran ChurchSt. Stephens Lutheran Martyr ChurchStark Community FoundationStark County CommissionersStark County Department of Job & Family ServicesStark County District LibrarySummit County Department of Job & Family ServicesA.H. Wilson BuildingBenders TavernCanton Palace TheatreHoover HouseLake TownshipLimbauch BuildingsLions Lincoln TheatreMassillon Heritage FoundationNational First Ladies LibrarySpring Hill Historic HomeSt. Edward Hotel

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