When Building Schools Should Think About Future Technology Changes and Function

Kelly, Frank, Instruction Drives Construction . . . Or Should, Education Week (2008), www.edweek.org (last visited November 18, 2008).
Educating students is not limited to the teaching taught by teachers.  The school building also plays a role in education.  School buildings are constructed for longevity, “to last for decades,” with the intention of educating students for their futures.   Educational technology and teaching styles are continually changing.  Yet, the change in educational technology is limited to the building’s design.  School buildings need to be built to reflect the rapid change in educational technology.  This concept, however, may be difficult to achieve because “the basic decisions about schools are set by custom, [and] assumptions . . . before the design even begins.  The question most often asked is not ‘how do we want to teach?” but ‘how many classrooms do we need?’”  Although discussions center on individualized instruction, school buildings are generally designed for group instruction.
It is important “to challenge, rethink or reconfirm” the concept of the school building and how the school needs to function.  When designing a school building, it is important to consider and anticipate how technology will have changed by the time the first class graduates.  Buildings should be designed to accommodate the “numerous major instructional changes that will occur over the life of the building,” in the same way office and retail buildings are constructed with flexibility to anticipate changes.  It is important to understand all the elements of an educational environment; “instruction, technology, time, architecture, and money, are not separate, but integrally related.”  Therefore, school buildings should be designed by considering all of these elements together.

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