Challenges…lay ahead! Designing a 21st Century Classroom.

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

During the past 6 weeks as part of the MAET course I have explored many teaching and learning ideas and how we integrate technology successfully into the classroom. The course has been both challenging and rewarding and it has allowed me to find practical direction for many issues that educators face in the 21st Century. In this final assignment I apply all this newly acquired information to design my ideal classroom.

As a primary school principal in the process of double streaming and embarking on a building program, classroom design is a very pertinent consideration for me. Current educational philosophy sees me moving away from an architect-type notion of, “let us deliver you a great building” to “let us work together to change the way we teach and learn in this place, with the building as one of its foundations” (McIntosh 2010). Being an educational leader and innovator places great responsibility on my shoulders to get the infrastructure right! I want to be in line with current educational philosophy and I want to be faithful to what I know to be important in the education process.

Friedman (2013) discusses Passion Quotient (PQ) and Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and how important they are in an individual’s ability to adapt in a rapidly progressing world. Without them, he argues that technology progresses – the pie gets bigger but we get a smaller slice. I agree with Friedman. If we are to adapt in this rapidly progressing world, “It will require more individual initiative …it will be vital to have more of the ‘right’ education … [and] skills that are complementary to technology”. (Friedman, 2013) I would sum up Friedman’s concept in an algorithm: CQ + PQ = Ability to Adapt. The ability to adapt is greater than IQ.

CQ is the thirst to ‘find out’, the ability to fathom that possibilities are endless. It is the ‘what if?’ factor.
PQ is the passion, the ‘fire in our belly’, giving us courage to follow our convictions.

We need both CQ and PQ if we are to adapt to the demands of the 21st Century, and we need to inspire them in our students. These qualities embolden us to ask questions, push boundaries and embrace technologies. Today’s students are ‘digital natives’ to whom digital technology is second nature. We owe them an education that leads them to becoming technology-rich, innovative, life-long learners. The design of a classroom reflects the technological, pedagogical and content (TPACK) (Mishra & Koehler, 2009) beliefs of the teacher. A classroom (or school) cannot be viewed as a great building, but as a place where our students become great learners.

Taylor (2009) quotes Barron’s idea that, “New ways of teaching demand different spaces. With new technologies comes the need for new and different skills – collaboration, integration of technology … and more project-based learning.” In the SketchUp Program task I developed a classroom that:

  • was open, flexible and adaptable;
  • included a range of areas suitable for collaborative learning, individual learning, small group work and support services;
  • had all possible appropriate existing technologies seamlessly incorporated to maximize their use;
  • was resource rich and environmentally sustainable;
  • provided spaces to allow good learning opportunities;
  • incorporated modern furniture, flexible/changeable for use in a variety of ways; and
  • maintained the capacity in the infrastructure to allow for emerging technologies.

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“Good design and good teaching complement each other” (Thomas, 2013), fostering cooperative and individualistic teaching and learning approaches. I incorporated Campfires (areas providing for whole group instruction and activities), Water holes (areas promoting small group activities) and Caves (areas promoting individual activities). Collectively, these foster independence and intra-dependence within the students. The design and arrangement of the furniture allows the teacher to move easily around the classroom, providing guidance and feedback to the students, both of which rate highly on Hattie’s (2014) Effectiveness Learning Scale. Desks can be used individually or grouped together as required, taller desks/benches were added catering for students who prefer standing. I aimed to create a physical environment that contained technology, furniture, materials and spaces that encourage curiosity, investigation and wonder.

As an administrator I am passionate about the implementation of technology in all classrooms. Like Buckner and Kim (2013) I agree that, “A key limitation to many ICT projects … is the lack of integration between pedagogy and technology. Simply placing technology hardware into classrooms is not a comprehensive solution to bridging the digital divide” (p.3). Mishra and Koehler’s (2009) TPACK Framework needs to be implemented into classrooms, aiming for the ‘sweet spot’, where technology, pedagogy and content combine seamlessly to create an optimal learning situation. In such an environment, learners are in touch with authentic situations to explore, observe, investigate, create and solve problems. Students will begin to take ownership and move towards self-directed learning, ultimately developing responsibility for their own learning. This is the foundation for the growth of CQ and PQ and is the basis for developing life-long learners.



Buckner, E. & Kim, P. (2013). Integrating Technology and Pedagogy for Inquiry Based Learning: The Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE). Retrieved from

Connor, D. (2013). Teaching and Technology: Campfires, Caves, and Watering Holes. Retrieved from

Davis, A. W. & Kappler-Hewitt, K. (2013). Australia’s Campfires, Caves and Watering Holes.  Retrieved from

EXPLO. (2014). Thomas Friedman: On Passion and Curiosity for Future Success. Retrieved from

Friedman, T. L. (2013). It’s the P.Q. and C.Q. as Much as the I.Q. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (2014). 138 Influences Related To Achievement – Hattie effect size list. Retrieved from

Hewes, B. (2010). 21st century learning space; cave; watering hole; campfire; dernsw; classroom; technology; education. Retrieved from

McIntosh, E. (2010). [ #cefpi #tep10 ] Clicks & Bricks: When digital, learning and physical space meet. Retrieved from

Mishra, P. & Koehler. M. J. (2009). Too cool for school? No way! Using the TPACK framework: You can have your hot tools and teach with them, too. Learning & Leading with Technology, 36(7), 14-18 Retrieved from (2014). Classroom Furniture / Educational, School and Library Furniture. Manufacturers & suppliers of Educational/School and Library Furniture in Australia. Sebel Furniture. Retrieved from

Taylor, R. (2009). Learning space turns school design inside out> Swinburne Magazine. Retrieved from

Thomas, K. (2013). A classroom for the 21st century: where are the best places for learning? Retrieved 14 August 2015, from (2015). Retrieved from


Education is not learning the facts. It’s the training of the mind to think.

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob children of tomorrow." - John Dewey. Brian Metcalf is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

“If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob children of tomorrow.” – John Dewey. Brian Metcalf is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Today’s students are completely different from those of five to ten years ago and everyone learns differently.

As educators, in looking at the class of students in front of us, we must take into consideration that one size does not fit all, especially today for our 21st Century students. The ultimate goal of education in schools today is to help the students learn. So we must take into consideration the different and varied learning styles of each and every student within our classrooms. Teaching and learning has changed and we as an education system must also change and adapt to meet the ever increasing needs of our students. As John Dewey states “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” (Goodreads).

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