According to a published study, school design has the potential to exert a 16% impact on student learning rates. What primary design principals were shown to have the most impact on improved learning?
Naturalness – including light, temperature and air quality
Individualism – providing more opportunity for student ownership, personalization and flexibility within the space
Stimulation – design elements that add visual complexity and color without overpowering the room or causing too much visual “noise”
Many of our own clients have already leveraged these design principals in very deliberate ways for their education clients, and our large format printing capabilities on such a wide array of materials has led to some incredible learning spaces.
Incorporating Nature and Sustainability
Biophilic design (which emphasizes the overall setting’s connection to nature rather than a single or isolated element in the room) is increasingly popular in classroom projects.
Integrating nature into learning spaces promotes wellness, and it’s even been shown to reduce heart rate and blood pressure levels nearly as well as the natural environment itself.
Our own education clients have maximized natural light, added indoor plants and used sustainable materials and inks in their furniture, fixtures and prints. They’ve also worked with us to add bold graphics, printed wood pieces, custom wallcoverings and photographic murals to bring a sense of nature inside.
The Shift to Flexible Spaces
To support different teaching styles and learning activities, many schools have added movable glass walls and doors for more collaboration and engagement, even between classrooms.
While this design choice encourages active learning, it can create challenges with privacy, sound control and work zone definition.
Some of our clients have established zones within these flexible spaces using floor graphics. These adhesive graphics provide no barrier to mobility and can withstand all the wear-and-tear of a typical classroom. They are easy to clean and can be removed and refreshed with no damage to the floor underneath.
The use of window film adds privacy to large areas of glass without restricting the feeling of openness. Applying on both surfaces adds depth, dimension and visual interest.
The Importance of Engagement
Modern learning space design demands thoughtful use of technologies that facilitate interactivity and collaboration. These might include smart boards, high-speed wireless networks and personal device docking stations.
One of the simplest engagement solutions is whiteboard space. Our whiteboard film can turn any wall into a beautiful, writeable, wipeable surface. Like floor graphics, this material can be changed easily to allow seasonal or annual personalization or to reflect new education themes.
Designing for Inclusivity
Ensuring spaces are accessible and comfortable supports students of all abilities and learning styles. Our clients have promoted inclusivity by adding adjustable furniture for students with physical disabilities, designated spaces for hands-on, kinesthetic learning, and quiet areas for students with sensory processing issues.
Soundproofing to reduce ambient noise levels may be one of the most important areas to address when it comes to student engagement. One researcher found that schools with less external noise have higher student achievement rates, while more noise increases student dissatisfaction and stress. To provide our clients a solution to noise, we offer a custom sound-absorbing felted wool that adds beautiful texture and space definition.
If you have high-touch traffic areas that need to stand up to lots of little hands, we can discuss durable, printable materials like metal, vinyl or shatter-proof polycarbonate.
The Future of Learning Space Design
Given the diverse needs and learning styles of students, as well as evolving teaching practices, education design will never be a one-size-fits-all process.
To support active learning in every classroom, we’ll continue to adapt our own services, always emphasizing durable materials and temporary graphics that can be easily changed to meet future school needs.