How Will this Pandemic Change the Way We Think About Schools?

Darin Hanigan

Over the last five years I have spent time researching school dynamics and design, trying to better understand how the changing world will affect the future of teaching and learning. This research is meant to inform me as a designer so I can grow as a designer of learning environments and understand their future. How will the future of teaching and learning impact the built environment? 

This current global pandemic has me interested even more as schools have been forced to virtual classrooms and content delivery. In the past I have researched virtual classrooms, content, and how this could have positive and negative effects on teaching and learning. Now more than ever this is coming to the mainstream. It has been amazing to watch our school districts locally and around the state take this life changing event in stride. In just a few weeks we have transitioned from the physical to a virtual learning environment. Content is uploaded daily and students are asked to be responsible for a larger portion of their school life. Is this an opportunity to look to the future and think about how we deliver content? Can school play a larger role in giving students the opportunity to explore their passions while absorbing content in a virtual classroom. Spend time with teachers on innovation, creativity, and learning to collaborate? 

You might wonder why I am asking these questions. The answers to these questions could have an impact in how we look at the design of schools. This topic is not new, it is just something which has come to the forefront given our recent situation. The questions I pose are meant to challenge our conventional thinking at school. What opportunities lie within this disaster. Our schools are amazing. In just weeks they have made the transition and opened new doors. What would it look like if our schools were given 1-2 years to re-think the way they worked?