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 AcademyThe Golden Key for Exceptional ChildrenGreen Local Schools (Green, Ohio)Green Local Schools (Smithville, Ohio)Indian Creek Local SchoolsJackson Local SchoolsLake Local SchoolsMarlington Local SchoolsMassillon City SchoolsNordonia Hills City School DistrictNorth Canton City SchoolsNorthwest Local SchoolsOsnaburg Local SchoolsPerry Local SchoolsRG Drage Career Technical CenterRootstown Local SchoolsSandy Valley Local SchoolsSolon City SchoolsSt. Michael SchoolStark County Board of Developmental DisabilitiesStrasburg-Franklin Local SchoolsTallmadge City SchoolsTriway Local SchoolsWayne County Schools

Higher Education

Ashland UniversityBelmont CollegeBethany 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

Workplace

3D Business AcceleratorAdvanced Storage SystemsAirtex ProductsAkron-Canton AirportAkron Community FoundationASC IndustriesArtsinStarkBekaertBridgestone AmericasCampbell Oil CompanyCarroll County TransitCutler RealtorsDiebold NixdorfDix CommunicationsEnvironmental Design GroupFedex Custom CriticalFirst MeritGE CapitalGreat Lakes ConstructionIn The RoundKiko Auctioneers and RealtorsLean DogLG FuelNational Inventors Hall of FameNickles BakeryPegasus FarmPenske TruckPro Car Automotive GroupProgressive InsuranceS.D. Myers IndustriesSecuritas Electronic SecurityStark Community FoundationSummit County Department of Job & Family ServicesSterling JewelersStruktol Company of AmericaTaylor BankThe Timken CompanyStark County CommissionersTomTod Ideas Inc.United Glass and Panel SystemsUnited Way of Greater Stark CountyThe Vasco GroupYoung Truck

Recreation

Alliance Country ClubAlliance Family YMCAAshland County ParksBoy Scouts of AmericaBrookside Country ClubBucyrus Area YMCACambridge YMCACampCarl.lifeCongress Lake Country ClubEric Snow YMCA (Downtown Canton)Ernie's Bicycle ShopFirestone Country ClubGeauga Park DistrictGirl Scouts of North East OhioGlenmoor Country ClubLakota YMCALouisville YMCAMassillon Boys & Girls ClubMinerva YMCAMount Vernon YMCAMurfreesboro Tennis ComplexMuskingum Watershed Conservancy DistrictNorth Canton YMCAParamount Tennis ClubPaul & Carol David YMCA (Jackson)Pegasus FarmShady Hallow Country ClubSilver Lake Country ClubStark ParksStark County Wilderness CenterTiffin Community YMCATuscarawus County YMCAWestbrook Country ClubYMCA of Central Stark County

Other

A.H. Wilson BuildingAlmost Heaven Homemade Ice CreamAmerican Development CompanyAmerimar Enterprises, Inc.Aultman FoundationAultman HospitalBair's PowersportsBAM Healthy CuisineBenders TavernBoggs ChiropracticBolivar Volunteer Fire DepartmentBrewster Fire DepartmentCanton Baptist TempleCanton Palace TheatreCanton TownshipCanton Township FireCapstone Real Estate InvestmentsCarroll County District LibraryChapel Hill Retirement CommunityThe Chapel in AkronChrist Community Chapel in HudsonCity of CantonCity of WoosterCoshocton Port AuthorityDeVille DevelopmentsDeHoff DevelopmentDowntown FordFirst Friends ChurchGastroenterology SpecialistsGoddard SchoolsGrace United Methodist ChurchGreentown United Methodist ChurchHampton InnHeartland Behavior HealthHoly Trinity Greek Orthodox ChurchHoover HouseJackson TownshipLake TownshipThe Lenzy Family InstituteLeopard Town TwirlersLiberty Development CompanyLions Lincoln TheatreLimbauch BuildingsLouisville Public LibraryMassillon Fire DepartmentMassillon Heritage FoundationMassillon MuseumMassillon Public LibraryMeniru Medical OfficesMinerva Champer of CommerceMissionView ChurchNational First Ladies LibraryPerry Township Police DepartmentPetitti Garden CenterThe Pickwick PlaceThe Pines Lakeside TherapyPlain TownshipPlain Township Fire DepartmentPro Football Hall of FameProgressive ChryslerQuonset HutRose Lane Nursing & RehabilitationSARTAScriptShop PharmacySeville-Guilford Township Fire and EMSShady Lawn Nursing & RehabilitationSmithville Fire DepartmentSpring Hill Historic HomeStark County Department of Job & Family ServicesStark County District LibrarySt. Edward HotelSt. Lukes Lutheran HomeSt. Mary's Catholic ChurchSt. Michael the Archangel ParishSt. Michael Lutheran ChurchSt. Stephens Lutheran Martyr ChurchTraditions at Bath Road Nursing HomeTrillium Family SolutionsUnion HospitalWooly Pig Farm BreweryWooster Community Hospital

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