Flexible classrooms: the role of lighting in collaborative education
For some time now, a change in teaching methods has been emerging, one which aims to break with the traditional way of learning. We are moving from an education system based on academic uniformity, the superiority of the teacher, and the memorization of facts, towards a new method of collaborative education that encourages creativity, gradual learning through interaction, and the integration of all the components of the classroom in a horizontal structure. This new way of learning requires new spaces that can adapt to any needs that may arise while this process takes place.
Flexible classrooms are areas that can facilitate this innovative educational experience, adapting to the different activities that take place in the classroom. They guide the students, directing their attention towards a specific element or area, and help them to become more active or to relax, depending on the situation. In addition to this, they greatly favour relationships between the students.
Lighting, apart from being a key element that you need to take into account when seeking to create ideal comfort levels, is one of the elements that has the greatest impact on the versatility of this type of classroom. It can contribute significantly to the task of configuring suitable changeable areas for the development of collaborative education, which is characterised by dynamism, proactivity, and interrelation.
COLLABORATIVE EDUCATION AND FLEXIBLE CLASSROOMS
The Consortium for Renovating Education of the Future (CoREF) proposes an education system based on creativity, joint problem solving, and collaborative learning. These new learning methodologies require new types of classrooms, the so-called "flexible classrooms", which aim to structure educational spaces in such a way that they function as a catalyst for the changes that collaborative education is promoting.
According to a report published by the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) entitled "Cooperative Learning in the Classroom", classroom layout is important. They highlight the effectiveness of the visual environment in achieving the goals of flexible classrooms. These aspects are of particular importance when you are seeking to encourage interaction, and the report identifies three main tools which combine to create the perfect visual environment: colours, shapes, and lighting.
LIGHTING IN FLEXIBLE CLASSROOMS
The lighting must be versatile enough to adapt to the different educational programmes and activities that these flexible classrooms can accommodate. In order to achieve this, several aspects must be taken into account:
- Ensuring the necessary comfort and visual ergonomics in order to create an environment that will promote the students and teachers’ well-being
- Providing flexible solutions to allow the lighting to adapt to changes in the classroom’s spaces and layout
- Offering dynamic technology that can adapt to changing requirements throughout the day and according to the specific activities to be performed – all from a cognitive, emotional, and physiological point of view
Ensuring thermal, acoustic, and lighting comfort in these spaces is essential in order to achieve optimal environmental conditions for the learning process. In addition to illuminance levels (lighting levels) on a horizontal level, it is also necessary to consider vertical illuminances (taking into account vertical lighting) and to consider the influence of the materials and finishes that make up the area. This is especially important when considering envelope lighting, through direct and indirect lighting systems, as in the case of the La Morera Municipal Nursery.
Visual comfort and the absence of glare are also key elements when we are looking to improve the learning process. They will help to eliminate distracting elements and focus the attention of both students and teachers, ensuring optimal environmental conditions and visual ergonomics. In order to achieve this, we need to make use of luminaires with technical diffusers which, thanks to their louvre system, reduce the glare index (UGR) of any building or area. Here we can mention Fil Tech luminaires, or optical systems specially designed to reduce glare, such as the Opal Confort diffuser, which, thanks to its optical louvre, allows great control of light distribution in one uniform aesthetic, such as with the Fil Opal Confort luminaire.
In classrooms, laboratories, or other rooms where students and teachers stay for long periods of time, we strongly advise you to use luminaires classified as photobiological risk-free (RG0), according to the UNE 62471 standard. This standard evaluates the risk of ocular or dermatological damage due to lamps or luminaires, as well as the prioritisation of indirect lighting, as is the case with the Fil, Kombic, and Plat ranges, among others.
The importance of lighting in educational spaces is unquestionable, whatever learning method you apply. In flexible classrooms, the changing classroom activities mean that the classroom itself must be able to adapt, and create an ambience which is consistent with the teaching circumstances and classroom experience at any given moment. A lighting system adaptable to changes in spatial morphology, such as the Nomadic system, offers a lighting solution that adapts to spatial transformations, allowing the shift from static partitions within the classroom to mobile elements that allow you to create changing, flexible spaces, capable of satisfying the many diverse requirements that the objectives and activities of collaborative education demand.
Dynamic lighting allows you to create lighting whose intensity and colour temperature can be regulated. In this way, lighting becomes an element that can guide and accompany the student from an emotional and cognitive point of view.
This type of lighting also connects with people's circadian cycles and the way in which lighting affects our biorhythms. This occurs organically with natural light, and people-centred artificial lighting also takes this into account, positively influencing them on a physiological level.
This paradigm shift in lighting, which is supported by technological developments, is particularly effective and timely when providing lighting for flexible classrooms. Wellbeing and multispectral technologies offer the possibility of inclusive lighting that takes into account visual and non-visual aspects. In other words, they address people's physical, mental, and emotional well-being by optimising the light spectrum. This allows us to provide artificial lighting that is comparable to natural light in terms of its circadian synchronisation and dynamism and the benefits these bring.
And, finally, this lighting is both dynamic and integrating, two fundamental aspects in flexible classrooms, where both the space and the people in it are constantly evolving.