Future learning environments will exist in the circular economy

Blog: Eerikki Mikkola, Offering Manager, Service Design Management and Henna Immonen, Business Manager, Education

Imagine a school that now and in the future meets the requirements of updated curricula and the assumption that all pupils receive education that meets their specific needs. Imagine a learning environment where the classrooms and all other learning facilities always offer the best possible conditions to study alone, in a group or in an online environment. And imagine a school store room without a single unused chair or desk just gathering dust.

These are very topical goals for many local authorities.

Decision-makers in education may be puzzling over a question that is almost impossible to answer: how to design and furnish schools so they still meet the needs of new ways of teaching and learning in 5 to 10 years from now?

Fortunately, nobody needs to try and predict the future or complete everything in one go any more. This is because the Learning environment as a Service (LeaaS) model brings precisely the kind of longed-for flexibility, user-friendliness and ability to react that is required in planning and purchases at schools today.

This service model helps educational institutions create learning and teaching spaces that are versatile and easily modifiable. The needs of all users, the pupils included, are taken into consideration with joint workshops and user surveys, for example. An essential part of the service is the continuous development and optimisation of the learning environment, which is based on genuine user experience and accurate data on the use of the premises.

No need to own a single piece of furniture any more

A modern educational institution is not a static space.
The greatest benefit of the Learning environment as a Service model is that it creates the conditions to renew learning environments in a practical way. A modern educational institution is not a static space, and the service model helps to lower the threshold to make changes and even bold experiments. Only when physical learning environments have changed can we expect the ways of teaching and learning to change.

The service model means that schools no longer need to own a single piece of furniture, as the whole package can be leased as a service instead. For example, for a fixed monthly charge, the service provider guarantees that the learning environments will be able to accommodate a larger than usual annual intake of pupils in August.

In other words, neither the educational institution nor the local authorities need to worry about what to do with the furniture after five or ten years. Martela will ensure that any unnecessary pieces of furniture find a new home through Martela Outlets, for example, and that they are replaced with furniture solutions that are best suited for the needs at that time.

The service model is part of our Waste Nothing concept and is a tangible way of bringing the circular economy to Finnish schools on a practical level. It is also a good way for local decision-makers to manage overall costs: if the furniture is not purchased, there is no need to make any major one-off investments.

Jointly developed school

We love being able to share good experiences with you.
For example, Kalasatama Urban Lab, which is a joint development and event space at Kalasatama in Helsinki, where the aim is to create a “super flexible space” for residents. We are using it to pilot our service model and to test with others how to modify the furniture in the space even at a very rapid pace.

This user-oriented method, which utilises the principles of service design and which we have used to create our entire service model, is an integral part of the solution that we offer to schools.

In the Learning environment as a Service model, listening to the users, joint development, and utilisation of usage data are part of both the initial design and continuous optimisation. This creates learning facilities that best serve their requirements and that are a natural way of improving community spirit and user experience among the learners and staff.