Education is constantly evolving, but over the past few years, change seems to have been put into hyperdrive!
Schools are taking new approaches to their pedagogical design, as well as their technology as they figure out how to deliver quality education in a virtual format. Simultaneously, schools are trying to find effective ways to support the mental health of their students and staff. Many schools are also adjusting the way they think about their physical spaces. 2020 presented some shocking challenges for education!
Seeing Every Space as a Learning Space
This is a big one. School leaders have been forced to think about how each space can be leveraged for learning. We've seen gyms, cafeterias, and even hallways used as classrooms to allow for social distancing. We're hoping that social distancing won't be a long-term trend, but it raises the question: What does it take to fully maximize the spaces in your school building?
From a design perspective, a hallway is no longer just a hallway; a cafeteria is no longer a cafeteria and a lobby is no longer just the dead space you end up in after walking through the doors. All these spaces must be thought of from a new, multi-purpose perspective.
Speaking actionably, school leaders can look to repurpose their spaces for multiple uses throughout the day by including more flexible furnishings. Larger spaces may even need rolling/folding tables, as well as portable seating. These simple additions instantly increase the flexibility of your spaces.
Staying Open-Minded About the Hybrid Model
The pandemic has completely changed the dynamics of education. Schools are moving between physical and entirely virtual teaching models – while others are employing hybrid models. This has caused some districts to pivot to 1:1 models, which has ushered a technological gap into the spotlight.
However far from perfect, it may be, we've proven the efficacy of virtual classrooms as a supplement for quality education. While it's most common in higher education right now, we expect this hybrid model to continue growing in popularity across the board.
What does all of this mean for your learning spaces? This model is causing us to actively rethink the functionality of all the different spaces in K12 buildings. New technology and broadband access will no doubt be at the forefront of this. Modern learning environments must be armed with collaborative tech, and school leaders must be willing to make frequent updates to this tech as it evolves over time.
We covered flexible spaces and furnishing earlier, but the hybrid model only serves to amplify the need for it. Hybrid learning requires more adaptable furnishings that can be quickly rearranged for different group sizes and uses as the size of a class fluctuates.
More Outdoor Learning Opportunities
As many schools start creating permanent outdoor learning spaces, one thing has become undeniable: Outdoor learning has become mainstream. Schools are taking advantage of previously unused outdoor spaces by converting them into full-fledged, modern learning environments!
It's no secret that spending time outdoors has many health benefits. However, many schools have avoided holding classes outside due to the cumbersome logistics. Regardless, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many classrooms outside. This tactic became increasingly popular once educators saw how easy it was to use portable teaching tools and supplies.
We think this trend could stick, especially in warmer climates.