Fostering Collaboration in 21st Century Classrooms

Katherine Korte

What do we want our learners to become?  The answer to this question can involve students acquiring  21st century skills.  We want our learners to become collaborative workers, effective communicators, critical thinkers and creative agents of discovery.  Does the traditional learning environment in a teacher orientated classroom with students sitting in individual desks, lined up in rows, make that becoming happen?  According to, “Designing Learning Spaces for the 21st CenturyLearners” student learning styles have changed.  Students prefer multitasking and quick non linear access to information.  Today’s students tend to be visually oriented, increasingly mobile and have a low tolerance to lecture style teaching. Finally, the article states students prefer active learning rather than passive learning and rely heavily on communication technology to access information and achieve educational goals.  Therefore, we need learning spaces that recognize and adapt to modern student learning preferences.  This action research project asks, if students work in a mobile/collaborative class environment designed to meet the needs of today’s learners, how does that impact development of collaboration skills and teacher classroom management?