Netherlands
Belgium
Gispen Classroom setting work group with JUNA trainbench and TMNL desks and NOMI chairs render

The teacher who simply shares knowledge with passively listening students is a thing of the past. Many educational institutions are glad these times are over, and so are we. It is becoming increasingly common to combine different teaching methods in education, similar to what occurs in business where different working methods are combined. Not only because it leads to better results, but also because it is more fun. What exactly is 'blended learning' and what can Gispen do to prepare your educational environment for it? 

DEFINING BLENDED LEARNING

As the name suggests, blended learning is a blend of different teaching methods. Combining classroom learning with ICT-based teaching modes, materials and tools applied in a single learning environment. The online part goes further than watching a video or attending an e-learning session. It includes online class discussions using statements, building a wiki together, working on a digital portfolio, a digital mind map or learning via a game or simulation. There is a wide variety of digital teaching modes that can be combined with traditional teaching modes, but also with other 'offline' methods. A good example of this is peer feedback, where students assess each other, as well as different types of presentations – from a poster presentation to an elevator pitch.

FLIPPING THE CLASSROOM

You shouldn't confuse blended learning with what we would call hybrid learning, where a class can be attended both remotely and physically. Flipping the classroom is another example of a blended method, where the physical class and self-study are flipped. Teachers who apply this method don't spend their face-to-face time on giving instructions, but use that time to dive deeper into the subject. Students watch an instruction video before they attend the class, and actively engage with the subject matter during class. However, wouldn't it be nice if you could bring together all sorts of teaching modes in a single, physical learning environment? Especially because meeting one another in person is becoming increasingly important.
Koning Willem I College   landscapem
Koning Willem I College   landscapem

SOCIAL INTERACTION

Especially now that remote education has become more common due to the pandemic, it is even more important for college students to meet up in person to catch up, share interests, study together and hold discussions. Social interaction is not only fun but also important for the students' development. It is during this stage of life that they develop their own identities, and this happens not only through classes and teachers, but all the more through interactions with each other. Blended learning allows for plenty of encounters and interaction. A good incentive for students to attend school! And there are many more advantages.

ADDITIONAL ADVANTAGES

Many educational institutions want their students to learn in a more 'active' way. No more sitting back, being passive and absorbing information. The subject matter will stick better when students actively engage with it. This is where blended learning makes the difference, due to its variety of teaching methods. This variety is also what makes it more attractive to students. If you want to engage with young people and keep them interested, you should incorporate plenty of variation in your classes. Why not integrate the use of a laptop or smartphone into your lesson plan? After all, these devices are within reach while studying at home too.

Alice Tabak, Gispen interior architect

HOW DOES ONE CREATE A ‘BLENDED’ FURNISHING?

How can different teaching modes be facilitated within one and the same learning environment? Gispen will gladly think along with you, as we have already done for several other educational institutions. It all starts with a clever interior design. Alice Tabak, interior architect at Gispen: 'To come up with an optimal design, we always start by establishing the different teaching modes the client wants to facilitate. We then look at the requirements that this imposes on the learning environment. There are certain requirements the space has to meet before blended learning can take place there. Only when this is all arranged will you be able to design a flexible layout and furniture allocation. Having tables with folding tops that can be used as a whiteboard, for example.'
Alice Tabak   squarexl

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

What are the requirements for a blended learning environment? Alice Tabak: ‘It often requires a bit more space per student than the standard 50 x 70 cm student desk. In order to furnish the space with a variety of furniture setups, you need to take account of walking space and space needed for rotating furniture. You will also want to incorporate plenty of power sockets into the walls and ceilings for plugging in monitors and laptops. Ideally, as an interior designer, you should be involved with the project from an early stage, especially with newly constructed buildings and renovations. This will allow you to create extra space or install doors slightly differently, for example, so that the space is used to the fullest. If that is not possible, we may recommend to have a limit of 24 instead of 32 students for that particular room, for the purpose of truly accommodating active learning.’
Peer group setup

SUCCESSFUL BLENDED LEARNING EXAMPLE

Gispen created an interior design for the learning environment of a Dutch university of applied sciences that wants to have meaningful interaction with students and stimulate active learning. With an important role for the learning community and peer groups, where students can feel safe. The proposed design boasts sit-stand desks, stools, folding tables combined with mobile sofas and mobile chairs with swivel tops that can all be quickly arranged in different setups.
Gispen Classroom setting peer team with JUNA trainbench and TMNL desks and NOMI chairs render
Gispen Classroom setting classical with JUNA trainbench and TMNL desks render
Classroom setup

Alice Tabak: 'The idea is to start the class with a short instruction of 10 minutes in a traditional classroom setup. The students are then split up into peer groups for doing group assignments, with or without digital aids, while seated or standing. They can make use of various available touch screens to work together as a group and give each other feedback, instead of each student sitting behind their own laptop. During the final half hour, the groups present their results to one another, for example in a theatre setup or parliament setup; seating arrangements that encourage students to interact and hold discussions.'
Work group setup

DYNAMISM AND ATMOSPHERE

In short, blended learning introduces a lot of dynamism into an educational setting. Or, in other words: the blended learning (class)room must be able to 'handle' and facilitate a certain dynamism. A clever interior design should always include furniture that is mobile and height-adjustable. Since the physical well-being of both staff and students is also of concern, sit-stand furniture offers the necessary movement and variation. Alice Tabak: 'And don't forget about the atmosphere of the environment! The green mobile sofas featured in the example create a more homely ambience and add colour to the room. The furniture can be matched to the brand identity of the school.'

Gispen Classroom setting work group with JUNA trainbench and TMNL desks and NOMI chairs render

A WORD FROM THE PROFESSIONAL

'To come up with an optimal design, we always start by establishing the different teaching modes the client wants to facilitate.’

How can different teaching modes be facilitated within one and the same learning environment? Gispen will gladly think along with you, as we have already done for several other educational institutions. It all starts with a clever interior design.

Alice Tabak
Gispen interior architect

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