Educators can't truly deliver 21st-century instruction in schools that reflect Industrial-Age designs, with rigid schedules, inflexible facilities, and fixed boundaries between grades, disciplines, and classrooms, according to a new white paper from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21).

Sponsored by Cisco Systems, the paper--titled "21st Century Learning Environments"--describes the kinds of school structures that have been shown to facilitate successful 21st-century teaching and learning: from flexible learning spaces that can be rearranged to fit different class sizes and subjects, to more malleable units of time than the typical 50-minute class period.

Although much attention has been paid to improving standards, assessments, professional...

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