Making Edtech a Key Part of Your School Construction Plan
Technology brings with it exciting innovations and even though products get smarter and smaller; our classrooms are changing very little. The construction of new schools is not meeting the needs of modern students, and future students are bound to suffer too. If we are pushing edtech as the future of education, architects and school boards need to be creating spaces that are conducive to blended learning, technology and the explosion that is happening across the edtech market.
One problem that many schools suffer from is bad Wi-Fi. This is not always due to their own fault but rather due to the construction of older schools. The brick walls are hard for Wi-Fi signals to penetrate and extra routers and boosters mean that more maintenance is required and more complex systems need to be up kept. Students and teacher suffer because of this, and if connectivity is the key to the new education system, better spaces need to be created for Wi-Fi. These and other concerns around old walls, foundation, and old spaces are explored in this great article by Old House.
Closely linked to this are the concerns that schools of the future will have high electricity consumption. The more electronics in use, the more wifi, and electricity needed to keep those technologies running effectively. Schools of the future need to be green, and schools should align themselves with standards set out by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). By doing this, schools will ensure that edtech is having a positive effect on students but also on the school and the environment at large. Schools need to understand that while the push for “paperless schools” is great, there are environmental concerns that come with schools as technology hubs.
Space wise, classrooms need to change too. Edtech may increase screen time, but that does not mean it must happen at the same desk for hours on end. Some edtech such as augmented reality and virtual reality requires space for movement. If we have classrooms that are simply made for desks, we cannot give students space to move, learn and engage with technology as they are meant to. The benefits of standing desks, as well as movement in the classroom, needs to be considered. Construction plans need to be more open and allow for students to engage with the space around them.
Construction needs to move away from the notion of “computer rooms” and realize that every space could be a computer room. Study pods and other quiet spaces need to be integrated into classrooms as students are being encouraged to work together but also to work alone. Edtech allows for this flexibility, but the current classroom set out does not. Blended learning is important, and if students are to feel that they are in control of their learning, they need to feel that classroom offers opportunities to do so. Some other additions to the classroom of the future should cover some of the following points.
- Charging ports near every student’s workstations
- Windows that allow for light but reduce glare on screens
- Air-conditioning to keep devices and students cool
Another aspect that Edtech changes is the way that students psychologically interact with their teachers, peers and their classrooms. A recent study done by Herman Miller on workplace wellbeing concluded that giving people some control over their surroundings adds to their sense of well-being and the same holds true for classrooms. Students need to feel in control of their classrooms in order to have mental well behind, something that is overlooked in present school construction.
So, if we are to move towards a new medium of learning, we need to be building schools that facilitate this new type of learning. Architects and education innovators need to come together to create the best possible spaces for learning. We cannot continue building schools as we have for hundreds of years but rather think towards the future and the needs and concerns of future generations.