Flexible Learning Environments

~increasing engagement~

Flexible Arrangements

Flexible learning spaces can be configured in a variety of ways for different learning experiences. Because furniture is light-weight and easily movable, students can meet in groups of different sizes in order to share ideas. Flexible learning spaces are also supportive of different learning styles because seating can be reorganized in ways that individual students learn best. Modulars should be considered as well, so that areas can be sectioned off as needed.


In a flexible learning environment, students have a lot of choice. Teachers allow students to work by themselves or in groups, with computers or without them and choose where they want to work.


Traditional classrooms have desks in rows that face the teacher. This is not good for times when students need to collaborate. A flexible learning environment allows for tables to be moved to form groups of any size. Whiteboards, smart boards and projector screens are mounted on multiple walls of the room. This way many students can explore new ideas or show their thinking at the same time.

Variety of Materials

The goal of a flexible learning environment is to allow students to discover information instead of the teacher telling the students everything. Students will be more engaged if they are involved instead of just sitting and listening. Then students are able to share their learning in creative ways. For this reason, students need to have a variety of materials. Whiteboards, projection devices, butcher paper and technology are a few items that should be considered.

Outdoor Features

  • storage areas
  • access to running water
  • overhead shelter
  • trash receptacle
  • pathways or trails
  • gardens or planters
  • amphitheater
  • benches
  • musical play area
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Additional Benefits

Research shows that students better absorb and retain information and skills that require them to use all five of their senses. Outdoor learning spaces are interactive and provide connections between the natural environment and all subject areas. Learning is authentic when students can observe and measure changes in the natural world. A recent study has also linked outdoor play to stronger social skills and creative development.

Students also develop a greater pride in their school and sense of community through these special and unique learning areas.

Lastly, outdoor learning spaces often take years to develop and grow over time. Their changing nature is part of what holds students' interest and attention.