September 23, 2022

Article
3 min

Effective Hybrid Learning Environments Require Thoughtful Planning

CDW’s Blueprint to Design service can help educational institutions successfully build out new learning spaces.

Cody Faas

Jimmie Singleton

The Fall 2022 semester has signaled there’s hope on the horizon for higher education institutions to return to more traditional in-person learning once again. However, many colleges and universities are still planning to support and further implement hybrid learning on campus. There are a lot of questions to answer about how to effectively implement this technology going forward, not only from a budgeting and refresh standpoint, but also with support and professional development too.

As they weigh their options, educators are considering strategies for active learning environments to keep students engaged. Audio has always been a key component of the higher education classroom and is ever more crucial with the introduction of hybrid learning on a larger scale. Technologies such as ceiling microphone arrays and speakers make everyone feel as if they are part of the room. The in-person students can hear the remote students, and the remote students are able to participate and collaborate. Mic arrays combined with tracking cameras provide the visual aspect to re-create an in-person experience for remote learners. 

With a transition to hybrid learning and more technology being implemented, there is a renewed push toward using automation to simplify the learning experience for all users, especially instructors. Instructors are there to focus on teaching their students and shouldn’t have to worry about how the technology works or how to troubleshoot it. It needs to just work, and it needs to be as easy as possible. 

A key component of the modern classroom is flexible furniture that can be easily set up to create a learning environment that facilitates the level of engagement and collaboration instructors plan for. Investing in technology such as microphone arrays and tracking cameras allows for the flexibility to rearrange the furniture to fit the lesson.

Planning Is Essential for Effective Learning

Higher education institutions looking to deploy hybrid learning spaces must plan further ahead than they are accustomed to. Logistics have become an important element in this planning, as institutions need to make sure they account for supply chain delays that can still affect classroom rollouts or refreshes. 

Further, they should take a strategic approach to planning the space. When planning the technology and furniture that will be deployed in a hybrid learning space, audiovisual and IT teams should seek input from students and instructors. Colleges and universities should determine what they want to achieve with a learning space and create a detailed map of how they want to get there. With this roadmap established, the technology decisions are generally easier to make.

How CDW’s Blueprint to Design Service Helps Build Out Learning Spaces

As colleges and universities work to plan their hybrid learning spaces, many find that getting help from a trusted partner leads to better outcomes. For example, CDW’s Blueprint to Design service can support higher education institutions with each step of a hybrid learning implementation, from selecting technology and furnishings to installation services.

It’s important to involve all key stakeholders in a learning space design — instructors, support staff, administrators and even students. Getting their perspectives can help avoid future challenges and downtime. With Blueprint to Design, CDW experts work with organizations to understand their objectives and all of the factors affecting the space: room dimensions, teaching styles, the location of existing infrastructure and concepts for furniture, as well as the placement of AV equipment and other technology elements. From this, CDW delivers a rendering that visualizes what the space could look like. The organization can then select details such as colors for furniture, or customized tabletops and laminates (for example, providing whiteboard tabletops). 

The rendering helps stakeholders understand how the space will look and how it can be used, which is essential to its success.

Story by 

Cody Faas

Jimmie Singleton, a CDW•G Higher Ed AV Field Solution Architect, has been in the AV industry for seven-plus years, most recently as the manager of learning environments at the University of Southern California, where he oversaw all classroom technology support services. In this role, he worked to improve customer experience by helping nontechnical audiences understand highly technical needs. In his time in higher education, he was named a member of Commercial Integrator’s “40 Influencers Under 40” list, as well as a winner of the AV Awards “AV Service Team of the Year” award. He is a Certified Technology Specialist and holds a wide variety of AV and IT industry certifications.