The current scenario reflects homes becoming hubs for learning, living and working which is in response to the social and physical distancing due to the global pandemic that could possibly change in the traditional modes of education in the coming times. Since the times are tough with growing economic instability, educators have been discussing about two things:
1) what happens when students return to school post covid
2) what are the changes expected to happen in the future inside the campus premises
This crisis has shaken the entire world and it seems schools won’t return to status quo everything from building design, curriculum operations, maintenance -the authorities has to adapt to a new normal.
Here are some thoughts about the changes that k-12 and other higher education institutions should be thinking about for the functioning of schools in the future.
Hybrid existence: With remote learning culture booming during the lockdown period, it is highly important to include both in-person teaching and remote learning models in the campus areas. A space should be created to effectively execute both the worlds (remote and in-person) and introduce them to new modes of learning. In order to maintain social distancing, institutions need to consider how to implement it in the physical environments. They will need to create strategies to utilize existing spaces, incorporate structures to support hybrid setups.
These kinds of discussions are happening in all the educational institutions because authorities address the safety of teaching and non-teaching staffs. Schools are considering for alternate weeks of in -person instruction with remote learning on other days. Although teachers and parents are familiar with remote learning the idea of in person and hybrid system would introduce new challenges in learning spaces.
It is important for schools to start rethinking about the existing spaces. While these spaces might be defined for specific purposes, the underutilized areas can be designed in brand new ways following the necessary guidelines.
Building virtual communities in physical environments: learning within the four walls is making it hard for students as the dependence on face-to-face interaction is a basic human need. The new normal will not take away the existing social gathering places but what will change is authorities would find new ways to integrate spaces for virtual collaboration in the physical structure.
The campuses are engaged in boosting up opportunities for students and increase digital engagement with new virtual practices which designs the future of education in an exceptional manner.
Besides creating a virtual environment, mental health has become a very stern matter due to the isolation and uncertainty caused by global pandemic. As the communities return from an extreme situation, mental health and emotional well being of students are to be considered as the top most priority. There are provisions for virtual therapy or counselling sessions with a separate space devoted for mental health support.
Infrastructure: The spaces should become tech-oriented as our major focus would be to learn in a virtual environment and the plan for the campus is to design with a flexible infrastructure that can adapt to any uncertainty and address preparedness. There appears to be a need to augment technology in order to better support hybrid environment and several major operational shifts will lead to the emergence of new patterns of infrastructure as we plan for the future. The investment in technology is also to bridge the digital divide and heighten the tech-oriented space to provide equitable access to students. To reemphasize the importance of wellness, schools are upgrading their cleaning procedures with air infiltration, integrating antimicrobial technology etc.
Practicing best methods through virtual engagement: The present group of students, faculty and staff are engaged in experiential learning who are actively building new skillsets and social behaviours which can later be applied on the institution. Institutions are also considering to incorporate new activities like e- sports training, cleaning materials, PPE vending machines, and individualized food distribution system.
The only thing which is left to consider in the near future is to plan for staff offices, housing and dining facilities and gather inputs from students and staff who are presently working from home. This would definitely redefine the education system where the scholar-pupil duo will have to accommodate into a new lifestyle which would carry a huge burden on the authorities to execute it properly but a new wave of learning can be witnessed in the coming times.