The idea of returning to normal is still aspirational with the pandemic escalating and dominating public policies. With a complete shutdown experienced by people for the past few months, the usual lifestyle has derailed. All the sectors are affected with everyone trying to cope up with the unprecedented situation.
The educational institutions are among the most affected and resultantly, students are getting introduced to new forms of learning. So far, the digital or remote learning is implemented widely but still, there exists ambiguity which is standing as a major obstacle to carry out virtual pedagogy effectively. Since the coming of the remote learning in the forefront, the digital divide has become manifest with students coming from economically less influential families not able to afford high-budget devices
Whatever the situation may be, the need of the hour demands us to think about the strategies to design schools to welcome back children when this uncalled event ends. It is highly likely that the digital environment that teachers have developed for a smooth conduct of learning would continue to play a key role in education as the teachers have become adept at digital instruction.
However, the COVID pandemic has underlined the significance of digital tools in the 21st century allowing students to attain education anywhere and anytime by undergoing extensive research on different concepts and topics. Now, the school administrators can explore sophisticated use of technology when schools start functioning post-pandemic.
To execute digital learning, the physical environment of school should support technology-rich instruction which means the spaces should be designed to support the use of tech-oriented devices without facing any disruption.
The infrastructure of the school will need a new design and structure for the digitization of schools.
Some of the aspects while developing technology-oriented schools are as follows:
Unlimited supply of power: if a school offers digital devices for every student then power outlets should be on the reach of every student to charge their devices. Desks, tables can have built-in electrical outlets to allow students to plug in their devices from wherever they might be working. It also offers flexibility. The mobile power strips can be provided for sufficient coverage with various slots which could be useful for teachers as well as students.
Broadband connectivity: reliable connectivity is very critical for staff and pupils to get a flow in learning. The K-12 spaces should consider coverage and network signal with a good Wifi availability to meet the needs of the future generation. In order to maintain social distancing, teachers would be required to conduct classes in outdoor areas, therefore wireless should be installed to extend connectivity.
Multiple screens: generally a class would only have one screen to present information but now ‘huddle stations’ are introduced which means smaller screens for students for group activities to share information with each other. However, due to coronavirus collaborative learning would not be encouraged for safety. K-12 authorities might consider using portable screens or barriers to separate students.
Sanitizing technological devices: Due to the pandemic, all the commonly used areas should be kept clean. Disposable wipes can be made available by school for staff to clean equipment such as keyboards before us. A portable UV sterilizer is also available in the market to disinfect touch screens.
As a huge crisis has fallen upon us in the form of a novel disease which might take considerable time to disappear or contained, the best we can do is accept the reality and move forward by taking preventive measures that help in arresting the spread of the virus.
The Changing Dynamics of Educational Infrastructure In terms of School Architecture and Interior Design
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