Are Coworking Spaces the Classrooms of the Future?
The education sector presents a bit of a paradox. While we go to school and take classes as a way to advance our knowledge, the industry itself is often last to adopt new innovations. That is why many education practices are stuck in the past, with a typical school day looking relatively similar to the school days of our parents, who lived in a much different time.
Enter coworking spaces.
Allwork reports that the coworking industry is worth approximately $26 billion, which is a relatively fast climb, considering that coworking spaces only started popping up in 2005.
These spaces have gained popularity for their emphasis on collaboration and open learning, which is why they’re present in virtually every major city across the world.
It’s only natural, therefore, that coworking spaces may become the future of classrooms. Mentorship opportunities and accessible spaces are two tangible benefits that students can take advantage of, while fostering a collaborative mindset is something that can be gained through coworking and transferred to classroom learning.
Mentorship opportunities at coworking spaces
Coworking spaces brand themselves around a sense of community. In fact, many even host bonding activities for members to get to know one another. Over 71% of coworkers end up collaborating and partnering up for various projects. Gathering in communal eating areas and at coffee bars makes it easy to facilitate new connections, and this advantage can prove to be invaluable to students who are looking to enter the workforce.
Unlike studying in the library, coworking spaces put students in proximity with workers across a whole slew of industries. This gives students mentorship opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise found within their schools. Tech workers and freelance artists tend to gravitate toward coworking spaces, which is great for students looking to explore newer, less traditional career paths.
Members need to keep in mind, however, that traditional coworking spaces are open to everyone. Greetly emphasizes that startup incubators and accelerators are targeted towards specific industries, making it easier to find relevant connections. However, since coworking spaces are normally open to all types of workers, it may take a bit of legwork to find individuals whose career paths align with your interests.
Coworking means easy accessibility
Accessibility and convenience are huge benefits to coworking spaces, affording members all the basic resources found in a traditional office. This easy accessibility can also be advantageous to students, particularly if they are juggling work with their studies.
Maryville University states that due to recent trends in higher education, the prevalence of online university graduates who are used to working remotely in now vast. Nowadays, lots of schools offer electronic resources, with some educators even allowing students to check into class online.
In a similar vein, universities sometimes offer coworking spaces on campus. Institutions often have guest speakers and visiting faculty who drop by, so establishing a coworking space within the campus can be a good offering for these visitors to be productive and get their work done.
Libraries and study halls are known for being stuffy, with more emphasis placed on being quiet and keeping to one’s self. Sadly, not all students learn effectively this way. Coworking spaces accommodate learners who prefer a more active environment. Offering these facilities within universities can provide support for different learning styles, which can itself be a draw for students and visitors alike. A university-based coworking space can also appeal to workers within the area, thereby increasing the students’ networking potential.
Adopting the coworking mindset
Last but not least, coworking spaces lead to a shift in mindset. Traditional pedagogical methods are top-down, with professors leading the class. The hierarchies established within a coworking space are less rigid, favoring collaboration and discussion that involves everyone. This is a mindset that can be transitioned from coworking spaces to the classroom, which can then allow students to take more ownership of their learning.
This type of collaborative mindset gets built up over time. LinkedIn‘s founder cites collaboration as the most essential soft skill in today’s workforce, so it’s important that students are immersed in this working environment as soon as possible.
The importance of smarter usage
Coworking spaces come with many obvious benefits, but they’re also a hotbed for distractions if you’re not careful. The events organized by these spaces can be useful when it comes time to network, but it can become tedious to talk to people when you are trying to be productive. Coworking spaces can also be quite loud, especially considering the fact that members often bring guests or clients in for meetings.
Coworking spaces should therefore be advertised as spaces for students to network, collaborate, and work with a whole range of people. Understanding this context from the get-go will allow members to take advantage of the atmosphere within these spaces, rather than be distracted by it.
Education is now beginning to embrace innovation by adopting augmented reality in classrooms and creating lesson plans that are focused on general themes rather than specific subjects. Coworking spaces offer alternative study spaces to classrooms while also exposing students to a more collaborative mindset, making these spaces a fantastic incubator for student learning.