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Learning Studios

Student-driven collaborative classrooms


In the past, it was common practice for classrooms to follow a “sage on the stage” model, which included mostly teacher-led instruction, and in which students are passive learners, sitting at their desks receiving content or completing assessments to demonstrate their understanding. Students usually cycle through these classes several times a day, and emphasis is placed on mastery of content. In a learning studio, the focus is shifted to collaborative and cooperative learning, where students drive their own education and teachers play more of a guide or facilitator role. Studio classes are usually scheduled for longer blocks of time, and emphasis is equally placed on individual development as well as content mastery.


When implementing a studio approach, there are several shifts a school needs to make to effectively set up the new learning environment. Here are some best practices and strategies that schools have used when incorporating learning studios:

  • Block scheduling: Studio time is usually scheduled for long blocks (e.g., two to three hours) or full days with built-in breaks to allow for more flexibility and time to go deeper into a project or content.

  • Physical classroom: Classrooms are more open and flexible to meet students’ needs. Furniture is easily moveable, there are many writing surfaces (e.g., whiteboards for brainstorming), and students can choose where and how to work. In a virtual environment, teachers can set up different virtual spaces (e.g., Amtrak Cars) for students to work in, and provide online tools such as Jamboard or Popplet for brainstorming and mind-mapping.

  • Teacher role: Teachers serve more as guides than lecturers. They support students as a resource and assist them when they hit a roadblock, but they are not the center of attention in a studio – instead, students are.

  • Collaborative activities: Students work collaboratively in groups or pairs and hone in on their problem-solving and cooperative skills to complete academic work.

  • Student-paced environment: Students can set their pace of when and how they complete their work. They develop individual skills around goal-setting, time management, and learning preferences. (Learn more about Learning Studios at The Forest School.)

  • Interdisciplinary approach: A project-based approach in learning studios lends itself well to interdisciplinary work. Different departments can create learning experiences together and invite students to explore them in small groups. (Learn more about Interdisciplinary Studios at Map Academy.)