Collaboration in Physical Spaces
Collaborative Learning Spaces is associated with collaborative learning and project-based learning over direct instruction models of instruction. Do not think of these learning spaces as traditional activity centers, often located against a wall or in a corner and superseded by the whole classroom set of student desks and chairs.

Creating Collaborative Learning Spaces replaces traditional fixed student desks and chairs in K-12 classrooms with comfortable modular and movable age-appropriate furniture and equipment.
Collaborative Learning Spaces challenges the mindset that spaces like the carpet or floor are for only the very young. It is my mission here to begin to change that mindset by providing alternatives to traditional stand and deliver classroom layouts. Think of applying Montessori methods of instruction with secondary students and having resources like a Lakeshore type of store for these same older students.

Also think about Starbucks as a model for 21st Century study spaces. K-12 schools could learn something from this smart company that sells comfort as a place to multi-task while you consume their products.

Two factors may help to create Collaborative Learning Spaces in 21st century learning environments, project learning coupled with one-to-one student mobile devices. As we now live in truly a micro-device society, our 20th century educational system will gradually assimilate to using these small devices that are perfect for working collaboratively in a variety of learning spaces! This disruptive innovation will have a significant influence in K-12 education and will truly enable technological, pedagogical and content knowledge integration to happen.


First, the essential practice of Purposeful Talk to develop critical thinking and conversation in group work is a foundational cornerstone in project learning.  Once this foundation is established, inquiry projects can begin and the use of one-to-one learning devices can be introduced and used by students in collaborative spaces.

These constructive practices coupled with modular and movable furniture will physically transform student ergonomics for teaching and learning in the classroom. The assigned seating chart in a class filled with desks and chairs will eventually become a practice from our past.

I hope you find these resources useful and helps to make a difference in the learning environment where you engage in the wonderful art and science of teaching.


Doug McIntosh
San Diego,CA



Collaborative Learning Spaces in 21st Century Learning Environments
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