We are ten years into the 21st century, yet most of our classrooms in the United States reflect the 20th century classroom listed below. Compare your school and/or individual classroom with this chart and see where your students live for typically more than 6 hours a day for 5 days a week.

20th Century Classroom

Teaching and Learning Model
  • Direct instruction with some small group work and projects
  • Test-driven system built on consumption of knowledge and skills
Classroom - Physical Space Design
  1. Most classrooms are a rectangular shape
  2. Lighting is typically controlled by two switches turning on/off half of the room at a time

  3. Student desk and chair for every student, all made by same manufacturer
  4. Student is assigned a desk that has a metal storage space compartment typically built-in below the desk
  5. Furniture is heavy and typically arranged to stay in place for most of the school year
  6. Most furniture have flat metal glides on the bottom legs to keep furniture in a fixed position in class

  7. Furniture is arranged in rows or small groupings
  8. One or more walls have built-in cabinets for life of classroom. Floor space is determined by these built-ins.
  9. Room may or may not have carpet, with typically only elementary students sitting on an area carpet
  10. One or more whiteboards located around the room for student viewing, these whiteboards sometimes serve as the screen for video projector
  11. Overhead projector or document camera on AV cart or table located in front middle of classroom
  12. Pull-down screen with possible video projector on a table
  13. Ink jet printer with 400 page ink jet cartridge
  14. Teacher uses a louder voice to project his or herself to students
  15. 1-5 desktop computers assigned to room in a fixed location
  16. Teacher may have laptop to take home - Teacher may have a web site that students can access from home
  17. Teacher has a heavy fixed desk

Current School Construction

  • Most classrooms are a rectangular shape with one defined teaching wall, this often makes it difficult to change the teaching wall from the long wall to the short wall
  • Wireless access in some classrooms
  • One shade tree or other type of green landscaping may be visible from classroom windows
  • Sunny climates - Many rooms have poor insulation and are cold in the winter and hot in the spring and summer without air conditioning
  • Windy climates - no wind power
21st Century Interactive Classroom

Teaching and Learning Model
  • Project-based learning with some direct instruction
  • Production-driven system built on content creation of knowledge and skills
Classroom - Physical Space Design
  1. Classrooms are a square shape
  2. Lighting is controlled with 4-6 switches or zones with the ability for dimming especially wall-mounted video displays

  3. A variety of desks, chairs and soft furniture made by 2 or more manufacturers
  4. Student moves to different furniture, uses a personal portable plastic tray from a mobile student storage unit
  5. Furniture is modular/mobile and is arranged to meet the instructional needs of the classroom on a hourly basis.
  6. Most furniture have locking carpet casters for mobility in daily arrangements for collaborative learning
  7. Furniture is arranged in a more eclectic manner, something like Starbucks
  8. No built-in cabinets. Three walls are available, classroom has mobile storage and more floor space
  9. Room is wall to wall carpet, K-12 students can sit or lay on the carpet with a variety of pillows, mats, seating
  10. Two or more Interactive Whiteboards connected together for class or small-groups, traditional whiteboards are still located around the room
  11. Document camera that is a also still and video/web camera connected to teacher laptop on a mobile presentation station
  12. Short-throw wall video projector with built-in interactive whiteboard system
  13. Network Laser jet printer with 10,000 page toner cartridge
  14. Teachers/students use classroom audio system with wireless microphones
  15. Laptop assigned to each student, no fixed location in room
  16. Teacher and students have a laptop to take home - use a class/course online Learning Management System
  17. Teacher has a mobile presentation station

New Green Construction School
  • Classrooms are a square shape with potentially three defined teaching walls or digital presentation areas utilizing short-throw video projection systems
  • Wireless access covers entire school
  • One shade tree or type of green landscaping is visible from classroom windows

  • Sunny climates - all rooms well insulated including windows, roof solar panel system installed for generating power for air conditioning and other energy needs
  • Windy Climates - Cylinder wind turbines on school roofs to generate wind power