The University of Waterloo’s approach to teaching and learning has been shifting to focus less on instructors and their teaching and more on students and how they learn. While traditional lectures are effective for some purposes, classrooms designed with only lectures in mind are limiting. Rows of chairs and tables facing the front of a room make it difficult for students to engage with one another and with the instructor, and can make it difficult to integrate educational technologies.

By replacing fixed, lecture-style classrooms with more flexible furnishings and room configurations, we open up possibilities for different types of teaching and learning. Flexible classrooms allow for collaboration, discussion, and group work, which makes it easier for students to make discoveries, solve problems, and direct their own learning with support from instructors and classmates. Not all classrooms can undergo these kinds of renovations, but they can still be refreshed and maintained to support instructors and students in doing their best work.