Considering the Educational Impact of Built Environment

classroom environment photo by pixabay

Whether you are aware of it or not, your environment has a massive impact on you. From your mood and level of productivity to your health and relationships, the space you are in plays a big role. While the humanistic consideration of space is not exactly a new idea, it has become increasingly important in the educational landscape. From libraries, museums, and classrooms -- learning spaces, the physical environments where teaching and learning occur, are being used as tools to elevate learner and educator outcomes.

Adding a greater focus on physical design to the education discussion has been a growing focus for SXSW EDU. In 2016, we launched our annual Learn by Design competition to highlight educators, designers, and creatives who have applied design-based solutions to challenges within education, with projects ranging everywhere from informal learning, Higher Ed, and K-12. With the competition approaching its third year and the topic trending, we are excited to continue to showcase these impactful projects and to host more discussions on physical learning spaces on our 2019 program.

By looking beyond traditional learning environment structures, learning spaces have found a way to address current societal issues. In the talk Making (a) Space for Artists with Disabilities, local Austin artists explore how to support artists with disabilities on their quest to becoming working artists. The workshop Teaching Social Justice Through Art takes adds a more nuanced approach to the discussion on learning spaces, by exploring how museums and art can be used as a medium to help us build culturally proficient learning spaces. We also see solutions to cultural and gender biases through inclusive makerspace design in the case study Making Culture: A National Study of Ed Makerspaces, the first in-depth nationwide examination of K-12 education makerspaces.

While the physical space itself plays a large role in learning outcomes, our environments reflect the values and priorities of those who occupy the space: educators and students. The panel Teacher vs. Environment (Space + Organization) adds human agency to the discussion by merging policy, funding, organizational development, learning, and architecture to collaborate on solutions in education. Workspace Education and Community Microschools invites attendees to reimagine schools as networked learning communities through the case study of the world’s first community microschool.

Browse through more of our recently announced SXSW EDU sessions on physical learning spaces:

Register to Attend

Be a part of the advancement of teaching and learning SXSW EDU 2019! Register to attend by Friday, December 7 to save $150 off the walk-up rate.

Classroom photo by Pixabay

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