The Future Ready Framework (www.futureready.org) was developed to help schools plan and implement for innovative futures, quite unlike what traditional schools may look like. One of the integral gears of the national Future Ready Framework is "Use of Space and Time". This gear requires that schools rethink how their spaces are being utilized. In traditional school models, desks are in rows and not easily moved. Often, the chair is attached to the desk, making it difficult to reorganize a room into different working groups. Many schools still use desktop computers, which cannot be moved.
Future Ready schools would have modular furniture, which allow for flex spaces. Tables (even with wheels on the bottom), instead of individual desks, encourage collaborative groups and are easily moved to create centers. Students and teachers would move the furniture into whatever arrangement best suits the activity at hand. This could change even throughout the day. Ideally, students would use a mobile device, allowing them to move around freely when needed, without losing access.
The 2017 Horizon Report (https://cdn.nmc.org/media/2017-nmc-cosn-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf) lists "Redesigning Learning Spaces" as a mid-term trend, one that may gain traction in 3 to 5 years. Existing schools are presented with the challenge of working with what they already have, in spaces that were built factory-style. It may be difficult to break down walls in older schools, to create larger spaces. Costs may prohibit the purchases of new furniture. However, I've seen, as towns and cities are building new schools, they are being thoughtful about the use of space within the school's four walls.
Passaic recently opened a new school (Passaic Gifted and Talented Academy). Flex spaces were designed to allow for anytime learning to occur; for example, spaces were included in the hallways where students could sit together, charge their laptops, and collaborate. The library in the school was designed to hold all 7th graders at the same time to do "Teach To One" math, a blended, personalized program. During the period, some students work on their own with hand-picked tutorial videos on their laptops. At the same time on the other side of the room, other students work in a small group with the teacher. The furniture was selected to facilitate this process.
While I think school leaders may be overwhelmed with the prospect of having to redesign learning spaces in order to be "Future Ready", it is imperative to begin this process in order to stay relevant. Small changes each year could help facilitate the change with less stress on the budget. For example, one year the school could purchase laptops for students, the next year, they could purchase tables instead of desks. With proper planning and a clear time line, schools can stay on track and be innovative in their use of space.