Jun 23, 2020

Not Your Typical Summer Break: How COVID19 is Changing our Educational Models

Not your typical summer break: how COVID-19 is changing our educational models.

Returning to school after COVID-19 presents teachers, students, and parents with unprecedented challenges. But it’s also injecting fresh thinking and new opportunities into an institutional model that that could use both. Recently, we sat down with Barbara Bray, Danish Kurani, and Alexei Greig to Oneder about what our learning environments will look like, and how a pandemic might introduce positive change into education.

Accessibility is a necessity.

During COVID-19, there exists a broad misunderstanding that access to education comes down to providing students with mobile devices. The reality, according to architect and urban designer Danish Kurani, is more complicated.

“It’s not just who has a device. We need to craft the digital learning environments the same way we would the physical environment. Kids depend on schools for meals. Parents depend on schools so they can work. Our schools are incredibly valuable beyond what we thought they were and beyond education.”

Beyond access, many kids depend on schools for meals. Parents depend on them for work. As institutions and places, they’re much more valuable than what we could have imagined.

Equity might look different for everyone.

When the school bell rings once again, it won’t be education as usual. Whether it’s a phased re-entry or an environment that blends digital and in-person learning, our educational system will have to adapt to a hybrid model – one that must accommodate different students in different locations using different tools. Even though we don’t know what the new model will look like, it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution.

“Traditionally we’ve created a system and forced everyone to abide by it,” says KIPP Bay Area Schools Director of Culture, Alexei Greig. “The current crisis has disrupted it in a way that should have happened before. We need to change and be flexible, even down to the way we design timing and experiences for the different types of groups that we have in our community.”

Reimagining physical learning environments.

Consider this: before COVID-19, school facilities were only in use 18% of the time. Now, as we potentially face new hybrid models of learning where parents take a more active role in their kids’ education, what will our learning environments become? And how can we better use them?

“Is every hour and every minute that we spend on campus worthwhile?” asks architect and designer Danish Kurani. “If it’s not, let’s do it at home. Students can take in content anywhere. Schools are going to start being critical about what needs to happen on campus, and what can happen off campus.”

To learn more about how COVID-19 is changing – and maybe improving – how students learn, join the full conversation here.