Whereas the term “New Work” is now widely known, “New Education” still needs to catch up. Drees & Sommer education expert Conny Laubach on the state of digitalization in education and at schools, outlining approaches towards New Education.
Today’s working world has undergone significant changes due to digitalization, leading to processes that previously required substantial effort now being automated. The ease of employee networking and collaboration across different locations has increased. As a result, the importance of knowledge has grown, leading to the emergence of new professions. Consequently, the requirements and organizational structure of work within companies have also transformed. These changes include the concept of New Work, which encompasses everything distinct from traditional work practices and where online meetings and remote work have become commonplace.
However, the need for change is not limited to the business sector. The education sector is also experiencing a growing demand for transformation. Unfortunately, the funds allocated to innovation and digitalization in companies are not readily available in schools, leading to a sense of stagnation and discontent among many education professionals. The absence of innovative and digitized schools in some areas causes problems not only for teachers, parents, and children but also fails to meet the demands of the evolving work environment. Digitization has become a central aspect of modern life, and it is impossible to imagine our daily routines without digital technologies. Evaluating the implementation of digitization in practice, understanding the challenges faced by its users, and identifying untapped opportunities are crucial.
“The use of technological tools is not only significant in the workplace but also in education. It is especially important to introduce digital work practices early in school to ensure equal participation among all students”, says Drees & Sommer education expert Conny Laubach.
Technical infrastructure requirements
Teachers have been grappling with the challenge of facilitating digital lessons while facing limitations in school infrastructure for several years. In some areas, the lack of robust broadband connections poses an obstacle. Expensive technology is often purchased but cannot be fully utilized due to inadequate basic conditions in schools. The problems often begin with the availability of power connections for the internet and device charging. When multiple students possess electronical devices, there is a need for numerous power sources. Consequently, the requirements for classroom spaces have changed significantly and will continue to evolve over the next decade.
In practice, digital education represents a significant undertaking. There is a pressing need to establish functional infrastructure and utilize digital teaching and learning materials to develop subject-specific and interdisciplinary competencies in schools, as well as early and vocational education.
Digitalisation of teaching and learning
Media education is intrinsically linked to digitization. The professionalization of teachers is a crucial factor for successful digitization in teaching and learning. Presently, many training programs primarily focus on technological knowledge, neglecting the application of that knowledge in actual teaching.
Digital tools should encompass various educational content levels and grades. Publishers and software companies should actively participate in this development, including within the framework of “Open Educational Resources” initiatives. The shift toward digital learning methods impacts both students and teachers, transforming the role of the teacher into a more interactive one.
Digitalization carries significant responsibilities alongside its advantages. Providing guidance, support, and assistance to children and young people is crucial in preparing them for critical media use and sensitizing them to potential dangers such as fraud, bullying, gambling addiction, and fake news. The ultimate goal is to enable students to become democratic, independent, and responsible lifelong learners.
Another noteworthy aspect is the potential for mutual exchange and learning among different users. Not everything can be fully digitized, and face-to-face communication remains invaluable. Consequently, there is still a need for classrooms and creative spaces. However, the changing role of teachers, who no longer solely occupy the front of the classroom but instead engage directly with students, necessitates a shift in spatial design.
New classrooms for virtual learning
Virtual spaces can partially address the challenges of digital education. “It is important to redesign the spaces used for digital teaching, adapting them to the evolving learning conditions”, emphasizes Conny Laubach. “Promoting collaborative work among students, encouraging peer interaction, and counteracting the inclination to work individually in digital learning spaces are paramount. The teacher-student relationship is also evolving, with traditional frontal teaching being replaced by interactive dynamics. This transformation influences spatial design and interpersonal interaction. The conventional concept of teachers remaining stationary throughout the day no longer aligns with current needs and requires reform.”
Teachers must be adequately prepared for these changes. Augmented or virtual realities can provide students with additional experiential opportunities, enabling deeper engagement with subject matter. While digitality has been less prevalent in subjects other than science, this is gradually changing due to technological advancements. Moreover, the educational landscape increasingly demands new spatial concepts. “It is essential to view school buildings as comprehensive architectural concepts that offer a differentiated and coherent environment based on pedagogical principles. Well-designed rooms and buildings signify appreciation toward both teachers and learners. The adaptability of spaces should be a fundamental requirement, ensuring they remain open to future developments. In this way, educational institutions constructed today will remain inclusive for all parties in the future, including students, teachers, parents, and community residents”, Conny Laubach sums up.
With a focus on digital transformation, sustainable educational buildings, and innovative spatial concepts, our team of experts excels in implementing sophisticated educational concepts while providing holistic guidance. Our comprehensive range of services covers the entire life cycle of educational projects. Starting from strategic, pedagogical, and didactic consulting, we extend our expertise to include UX planning and seamless support throughout the construction phase, leading up to the successful handover, operation, and optimization of the building. At Drees & Sommer, we seamlessly integrate educational, sociological, and construction knowledge with our sector-specific expertise to deliver exceptional results.