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Physical Learning Environments


In an attempt to provide consistent classroom experiences for the faculty and students of Tri-County Technical College, the Physical Learning Environment Advisory Team (PLEAT) was formed. To gather feedback from the faculty, a survey was administered. This survey sought to garner feedback from faculty in the following categories: instructional objectives, instructional approaches, spatial & technology attributes, and software & connectivity requirements. In addition to this, faculty were asked to provide open-ended responses in an attempt to gather qualitative data and ascertain themes. The team received 113 responses and the results were consolidated using a synthesis workshop and the findings yielded the following results: 6 distinctive learning spaces were defined and features of these spaces were outlined. Based on the data collected, a graphic was designed to encompass the information in a visual way.

Advisory Team

AS - Stacey Frank
Student Engagement - Som Linthicum
Instructional Support - Sarah Shumpert
BPS - Pam Goodman
EIT - Justin Herndon
Comp Studies - Tracy Kilgore
HE - Mandy Hanks
AS - Christoph Kreese
AS - Derek Williams (adjunct)
Student Engagement - Brian Swords
Student Engagement - Lauren McClellan
IT - Luke VanWingerden


To synthesize the information compiled from faculty feedback and the PLEAT, the following graphic was created to provide a visualization of the experiences. In this graphic, foundational infrastructure and software elements were defined that are present across all instructional spaces, with few exceptions.

Beyond the foundational elements, there is one standard classroom space. The Flexible Classroom gives instructor the ability to promote group work and other active learning activities, while still providing an experience conducive to classroom lecture.

The top row of the graphic indicates specialized learning environments: the auditorium, the synchronous video classrooms, the computer labs, and the experiential classrooms. These learning spaces are more specialized to accommodate different instructional environments, but build upon the standard flexible classroom designs.

Lastly, to the right of the graphic, there is an area for potential add-ons. This is a list of items and features that are not include in the basic classroom design, but are available to instructors upon request.


Template Descriptors 


  • Foundational Infrastructure / Foundational Software Elements
    • Describes the baseline attributes central to all physical learning environments – a default setting that faculty should expect to find in any instructional space.
  • Flexible Classroom
    • The learning environment is optimized for team-based and collaborative work.  Smaller work tables presort students into groups organically and allow for reconfiguration based on the learning objective.  While the learning space may support traditional lecture or Socratic Q&A, the instructor is de-emphasized as a focal point, operating within and beside the student learners, rather than from a fixed podium or presentation station.
  • Auditorium
    • Significantly larger than the Flexible Classroom, but evincing many of the same attributes, the learning space is essentially fixed with a definite separation between audience and speaker.
  • Synchronous Video Classroom
    • The learning space provides a real-time classroom experience to students at multiple, remote locations.  The structure of the learning environment is largely predetermined to accommodate cameras, audio, projection and other tools necessary to seamlessly broadcast with minimal faculty setup.
  • Computer Lab
    • Featuring fixed workstations, the lab should provide all necessary technology for the learner.  Learners are able to observe and mirror the on-screen movements of the instructor from their stations.
  • Experiential Classroom
    • Similar to the Flexible Classroom, the learning environment may include additional layers of technological and material support, allowing for more hands-on engagement.  The learning experiences might include a range of demonstrations, simulations, and constructions that directly invite and incorporate student learners into the creation process.