The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes in how workspaces and learning spaces should operate. Face-to-face interaction has to be limited in accordance with social distancing protocols. This, in turn, forced advancements of how technology is adapted into modern workspaces and learning areas such as schools.
In this interview between Vega’s Heather Li, and Ambroise D’Hauteville, Director of Steelcase Learning, the pair discuss the rapid advancements of technology for learning areas. Specifically, Ambroise talks about “hybrid” spaces and trying to make the experience of a virtual learning environment similar to in-person learning. Teachers can see all their students virtually, and students can see the environment that their classmates are using as well. “It’s not 100% the same experience, but at least the gap is getting closer,” he said.
When discussing these hybrid learning environments that have technology integrated into them, Ambroise clarifies that these spaces need to be intuitive. For example, he describes a collaboration they did with the National University of Singapore to create “incubators” for their students to generate ideas. They had whiteboards to encourage students to stand up, a flexible design that can shift into any use they want, and video screens for any outsiders who want to join in. These are some examples of how they integrated the technology in the learning space.
However, intuition doesn’t always come easily for the users. This is why Steelcase Learning was focused on starting to encourage hybrid learning spaces for those as early as Year 1. That way, children are familiarized quickly with the technological capabilities required in the modern market.
Moving forward, Ambroise looks at how technology will be more integrated into what they manufacture, both for work and learning environments. “More and more, the products that we design have to integrate technology 100%,” he said. He points to research and data collection as the key tools that will help them develop better tools and spaces that will help students or companies work better. With physical and online interaction beginning to merge, gathering data to make collaborations within teams easier becomes more and more important.