Technology is reshaping education around the world. From the rapid proliferation of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, to the widespread use of devices that support a variety of “blended learning” models. This is creating an intersection between new challenges and new opportunities within educational institutions of all types, from early education to universities.
With fresh ways of thinking about learning environments, schools can capture the promise of evolving educational models without diminishing the importance of teachers and bricks-and-mortar campuses.
To better understand the dynamics and spatial implications of technology-empowered learning, the Steelcase Education team recently completed a design research study that involved observations and interviews at 16 schools, colleges and universities throughout the United States. A key insight from this work: Technology is a tool that is significantly changing the relationship between instructors and students — and improving it in many ways when aligned with teaching strategies and goals.
Instructors are using technology to replace old models of standardized, rote learning and instead creating more personalized, self-directed experiences for their students. There’s more multi-device synchronization with software that supports multi-user collaboration and more support for virtual conversations, both within and beyond the classroom. And more students and instructors are creating their own digital content, including animations and videos. The result is deeper, more personalized learning and easier, more efficient access to education.
As educators begin to rethink learning through the lens of effective use of technology, reshaping educational spaces is a pivotal factor for success. With fresh ways of thinking about learning environments, schools can capture the promise of evolving educational models without diminishing the importance of teachers and bricks-and-mortar campuses.
Based on its study, the Steelcase research team has identified six key insights to help educators consider spatial responses to the technology revolution that is now well underway in learning.
1) Person to person connections remain essential for successful learning
2) Technology is supporting richer face-to-face interactions and higher-level cognitive learning
3) Integrating technology into classrooms mandates flexibility and activity-based space planning
4) Spatial boundaries are loosening
5) Spaces must be designed to capture and stream information
6) High-tech and low-tech will coexist
New spaces for new ways of learning
More than ever, classrooms and informal learning spaces must be highly flexible to support the new behaviours of learning that are the direct result of new technologies. As rapid development occurs and new technologies impact the ways that knowledge is transferred and embodied, the time is right to refine both the processes of education and the places where it occurs. Through innovation, it’s possible to bring the best of technology-empowered learning into bricks-and-mortar schools. The results can be positively transforming, for educators as well as their students.
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