collaborative learning, Instructional Design, Learning Spaces

How can I make my classroom more collaborative?

By Kirk Lunsford

The interior design classroom and lab at Front Range Community College, in Fort Collins, is a relatively new space in a recently constructed building. The room houses approximately 18 seats with Windows 7 computers and design software. It includes a scanner, a printer, some material storage, and a separate room for materials. The desks not only serve as computer workstations but also drafting tables.

IMG_3504-blur(The Interior Design Classroom Front Range Community College)

The curriculum is relatively ‘individual achievement based’, such as, students almost always work on their own projects for the purpose of their own portfolio. However, students will often congregate in areas to get advice from other students or watch over someone’s shoulder as they perform work in CAD software. I sometimes wonder what it would be like if we could create these situations more intentionally? Although designers typically perform work intrinsically in software, the best designs always shine through team efforts between several designers, architects, clients, and end users. Our students could be more prepared for the ‘real world’ if we made it easier to collaborate.

IMG_3500(Instructor console Interior Design room FRCC)

The instructor console is off center. To demonstrate on the computer half of the class is on the opposite side of the room. It’s hard to keep everyone engaged. It seems the further the instructor is away from students the less interaction occurs. Some students on the far side of the room face the wall and are isolated. There’s a lonely ADA desk over there as well. I’ve already considered some ways we could improve this in an equity reflection.

IMG_3501(Isolated ADA desk, furthest away from instructor, faces away from group)

Before I can consider a redesign of this space I’d like to point out some challenges:

  • Drafting desks are large and rectangular. They cannot be moved but can they be replaced?
  • Must accommodate 18 workstations
  • Must integrate ADA better
  • Allow for appropriate distinct individual and shared work areas
  • Space required for the scanner, printer, and drawing supplies
  • Must integrate materials better
  • Instructor console integrated better
  • Easy access to all groups and groups can co-mingle

It may not be possible to address all of these challenges, but establishing an overarching goal would be sufficient to address many concerns. Of course, the ultimate goal of the classroom re-design is to create a better space plan to promote collaboration between students and instructors. I will attempt to address this goal and the considerations of this ‘collaborative’ space in another blog post featuring the space design in the near future.


2 thoughts on “How can I make my classroom more collaborative?”

  1. In our classrooms here, at the Department of the Interior, the projector can display onto more than one wall. If you had such a projector, then the issue of sharing your computer screen would be solved…


    1. I wish my classroom had a better projector! Most of the time mine displays a blurry image onto one wall. It is a bummer when the bulb burns out. Usually takes are district up to a month to replace burnt out bulbs!


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