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Cool Learning by Actiu, evolving the classroom to transform education

Cool Learning by Actiu, evolving the classroom to transform education

FEBRUARY 2017 | 4 minutes

Desks and tables as we know them today may have their days numbered in the classrooms of the future, along with fixed furniture and where all classes have the same layout. For a long time, the education community has been immersed in a revolution attempting to redefine teaching, including the way we teach and learn as well as the spaces. A change which is promoting new active teachers, cooperative work and learning based on projects.

According to the sociologist and professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, Mariano Fernández Enguita “the traditional school is a bore which is why it is failing. On screens children are learning by teaching themselves and then they arrive in the classroom and are shocked by a nineteenth century system”. Two highly regarded experts, Michael Barber Peter Hill, have written that “Even the more efficient educational systems have shown that the system is obsolete.” and not only in schools, the outdated model is in universities and also training given in businesses.

Following the Cool Working philosophy developed by Actiu, Cool Learning by Actiu is born. It is a result of fieldwork carried out in collaboration with experts and final users of educational spaces. According to this study, old paradigms (hierarchy, memorisation, routine, one dimensional classrooms) are being replaced by new values where processes, netarchy, personal skills, creativity are promoted in environments designed to foster learning.

To create these spaces that strengthen these paradigms and contribute to learning, experts agree that classrooms need to meet some of the following main characteristics:

  • Flexibility, with modular structures easily adjustable to allow for different configurations depending on the needs at the time.
  • Technology and connectivity, furniture that allows total connectivity including audiovisual technology, video-conferencing, wireless access points, access to information, etc.
  • Comfort, a facility that promotes well-being and feeling good.
  • Sustainability, it is important to take into account natural light, acoustics, keeping optimum temperatures and the efficient use of natural resources.
  • Good health, promote healthy habits and furniture that pays attention to ergonomics.
  • Communication, promote the exchange of knowledge, team work and to create friendlier environments.
  • Independence amongst users to create greater commitment, motivation and trust. 

Actiu in collaboration with the school IES Cotes Baixes in Alcoy, a leader in innovation and quality education in the Community of Valencia, has used part of their facilities to implement a pilot project based on experimentation, supported by la Conselleria de Educación Valenciana (Regional Education Ministry). The head Vicent Marzà and Director General of FP, Marina Sánchez, have recently travelled to both the education centre to get to know the process and facilities in greater detail, as well as to Actiu, where they were interested in the productive capacity of the firm in supporting educational change through the generation of new spaces.

ES Cotes Baixes has more than a hundred teachers and educates more than 1000 students in secondary education and professional training in industry and technology. The process for educational change started this academic year (2016-017) and will be gradually introduced, affecting all groups in Year 8, those studying A-Level in Technology and students in their second year of all Higher Education Courses and in Woodwork and Textiles courses of intermediate level, taking on a representation of all educational courses offered by the school.

To develop the project, an open, divided space was created through the configuration of furniture and with its own functionality in four different work areas, which are to be used to develop specific methods in each one. It has been named Cool Learning, as it combines the more social, free and easy part of new teaching (Cool) with deeper learning (Learning):

  • Collaboration Zone, creative thinking, project prototypes, collaborative work, round desks, etc.
  • Learning Zone, with foldable and movable desks to allow many layouts depending on the need at the time. In this area, the walls are blackboards and have been given the main IT equipment of the classroom, connections, project etc.
  • Concentration Zone, a private area to enable teachers’ meetings to prepare didactic material, assessments, etc. Also so that students can organise work and presentations and includes video-conferencing.
  • Social Zone, armchairs and low desks offer the student an independent learning space in a comfortable space.

The attractive, immersive space allows the growth of ingenuity, intuition and knowledge, where subjects are not thought of as isolated boxes, but as integrated together, complementing and supporting constructive and immersive learning in a creative environment.