When we think about learning spaces, the images that usually come to mind are brick-and-mortar spaces and facilities.

When we think about learning spaces, the images that usually come to mind are brick-and-mortar spaces and facilities.

School buildings, classrooms, desks, chairs and chalkboards are all fixtures that are familiar to most of us.

The learning spaces of last century's industrial age were designed to focus attention on the front of the room, where the teacher and chalkboard were located. It met the expectations of yesterday's workforce and society, but it falls short in meeting the requirements of today's learners.

Although our goal to prepare students for college and careers remains the same as it did generations ago, the classroom environment needed to get us there is very different now. Because of this, Grandview Heights' teaching and administrative staff, members of the school board, and members of the Grandview community are researching and visiting a number of school sites to learn how they designed and now use instructional space to meet the needs of 21st-century students.

Today's 21st-century learners live in a technology- and information-rich world. How and where they learn is no longer limited to the physical and temporal space of the school building or the school day, and the teacher is no longer the sole source of information.

Our team has visited the McVey Innovative Learning Center in Hilliard, the Marysville Early College High School, and Metro High School in Columbus to see firsthand what other school districts are doing to provide their students with access to modern learning spaces and classrooms. These schools have designed learning spaces to support the intersection of the "Four C's" of 21st-century skills: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. We know these skills are coveted by today's colleges and employers.

These spaces are equipped with movable furniture, specifically designed to allow students to work alone or collaboratively in groups. Technology is seamlessly available so students have real-time access to information for projects and assignments. The boundaries of spaces often are flexible thanks to movable and reconfigurable walls. Spaces are wide open and students have choices about where, and sometimes when, they engage in learning. It is a learning environment that is aligned to living and working in a globalized new millennium.

In the coming months, Grandview Heights City Schools will continue to explore 21st-century learning spaces in conjunction with the development of the district's continuous improvement plan. Modern classroom spaces are a vital part of the learning experience and will help us achieve our goal of providing students with multiple pathways to personalized learning to help prepare them for the future.

Andy Culp is superintendent of the Grandview Heights City School District.