Even before the pandemic, education was undergoing a transformation that will go on long after the virus threat subsides. The experiences students, educators and administrators have had during the pandemic have accelerated and amplified trends in education that were already in motion. Online and blended learning has revealed inequities and how many physical learning environments simply can’t meet the pedagogical needs and technology demands. Additionally, wellbeing has suffered, and students and teachers have struggled, unable to teach or learn effectively.

What Students and Educators Need and Expect

Everyone has had a vastly different experience teaching and learning from home. Those experiences shape their expectations for what they want the learning experience to be like in the future.

Prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, Steelcase Learning researchers used multiple methods to understand the value of blended learning to educational outcomes and how space can play a role to ensure an enhanced experience. Prior to COVID-19, researchers visited both K-12 schools and universities, interviewed educators and students, observed blended learning models and built prototypes. They also studied the impact on student and educator wellbeing. Since the onset of the pandemic, they’ve used a remote diary platform to assess how online learning is going for teachers and students. Steelcase also conducted multiple studies in 10 countries to better understand the impact the pandemic has had on workers. Synthesizing all these studies uncovered five overarching needs that will drive macro shifts in the overall learning and work experience and lead to new ways of planning and designing learning environments.

Macro Shifts In The Learning Experience

To be able to create better teaching and learning experiences that provide students and educators with what they want and expect, institutions will need to pay attention to four macro shifts in how they think about space.

While living through a crisis has not been easy on anyone, it has accelerated changes that were already underway to improve the learning experience. Leaders in education can use this moment as a catalyst for reinventing learning spaces and explore new approaches for delivering quality education.