As I begin to wrap up my research I have been conducting interviews on what educational spaces or classrooms need and how collaborative spaces within middle schools is indeed a good thing for the age group. I conducted an interview with Donna Post, Ph. D. the department chair in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at SIUC. Over the course of the interview several key issues were raised. Research shows that kids need to interact, not only to improve their social skills at this very critical age but this provides the fundamentals for them to learn how to act and engage within a group setting, which helps them prepare better for the real world in the future. Collaborative work spaces have proven to help foster hands on learning which has a dramatic increase on the knowledge that the students take home versus just seeing information on a piece of paper and “learning” it for a short amount of time. The opportunity for students to work together also helps the whole class learn more. When students work in a collaborative style together an increase in learning tends to happen because kids teach and educate each other when the teacher cannot be there or when concepts are not understood. She believes that the spatial arrangement inside a classroom can dramatically affect how students learn in a space. A flexible space where chairs and tables can be moved out of the way or out of the center of the classroom to create a gathering space in the middle of the class so that students can do hands on learning would be amazing. She quotes” I know of a teacher who, for her science class, when they are learning about the heart, she tapes a heart out on the floor and has the students walk through the process of how the blood travels through the heart. This hands on type of learning has a dramatic increase on student take home knowledge verse the ones who just see a diagram of how the heart works on a piece of paper.”
The use of the chalk board and even the white board is fast declining, the incorporation of writing surfaces that are completely digital is the now and the future. This only emphasizes how much technology is going to play a part in the learning environment. However this use of projection screens and surfaces, only increases the need for operable lighting environments. Being able to fully dim a space and then bring the light right back to normal levels helps the space be fully and comfortably used. This is a battle between artificial and natural daylighting that can be solved through the use of high quality, and fully operable blinds and shading devices.