Highest and Best Use

Conquering the Classroom Real Estate Market

September 09, 2009

Since classroom activities take place in a physical location, it seems appropriate to use a real estate metaphor to examine the role of the classroom. When commercial real estate is appraised, the concept of "Highest and Best Use" is employed to determine whether or not the property is maximizing its potential economic value.

The "Highest and Best Use" concept maintains that real estate has the highest value when its use is consistent with its market conditions. Simply stated, it doesn't make sense to grow corn on a lot adjacent to Times Square in NY because the profits from growing corn are miniscule compared to the potential rent from a retail store or office building.

Likewise, it doesn't make sense to put a high‐rise office building in the middle of a thinly populated rural area where a single story office would be far less expensive to construct and more consistent with the demand for office space.

As real estate, classrooms are expensive, both in terms of the space itself, and even more importantly, the cost of getting people there — the travel and lodging which are often unavoidable. Applying real estate logic to classroom training, consider that the "Highest and Best Use" of classroom real estate is to do that which can not be accomplished otherwise, namely physical real‐time interaction between students and instructors.

Static lecture does not fit this definition. It doesn't require an expensive physical presence to listen to a lecture. From a Lean perspective, it' over‐processing (one of the 7 wastes) — using more resources than required to accomplish the work.

Therefore, the classroom component of a Blended Learning model should focus on interaction: role playing, simulations, "serious" games, and activities that encourage the creation of the interpersonal networks that are critical to deployment success. In our experience, active team‐oriented practice‐based learning in an environment which simulates the demands of the real world, with immediate feedback and rapid cycles of learning, is the highest and best use of classroom real estate.

So if you are growing corn on your most expensive property, it might be time to re‐evaluate the approach.