September 12, 2022
How Universities Are Adapting Campuses to Hybrid Learning Experiences
Universities around the country are starting to embrace and implement hybrid learning onto their college campuses. But what hybrid learning environments are being prioritized?
The college campus is evolving. Experiences once found on a physical campus are now moving to become digital infrastructures. Chief among these experiences are the classrooms, and with these changes are hybrid learning environments.
The year 2020 brought about virtual learning environments, but these video conference classrooms were only the beginning of seismic changes that would shape how professors teach, students learn, and colleges offer educational experience. Hybrid learning environments enable education to occur regardless of location or classroom style — if the college adequately prepares the classrooms with the right hardware, software, and training.
A recent study by EDUCAUSE took a look at how colleges are changing their classes to adapt to hybrid learning environments, and what classrooms are being prioritized for adoption. We looked at these statistics and offered suggestions on technology and IT strategies you can use in your university environment to bring these advancements to your campus.
Say Their University is Working to Change Multiple Classroom Types
More than 33% of higher education leaders said their university is “actively working to transform five or more types of learning spaces” throughout the university’s campus. Transforming the classroom requires updating the learning environment with new technology to enable fully remote or hybrid classroom environments. Additionally, 100% of respondents said their institution was updating at least one learning environment. These environments are each unique with not only their specific set of technological demands but also educational requirements. Therefore, the idea that "no two classrooms are alike" becomes even more amplified when considering the technology that goes into a lab classroom versus a lecture hall.
These learning spaces include...
More than half of educators surveyed said they were looking to update their small classroom environments, and with good reason. The intimate, more conversational setting of a small classroom has very specific but clear technology demands that most can understnad. Small classrooms require collaboration and communication tools. Conference software that enables the professor to share their screen, call on students, and create breakout rooms for discussion and group work is critical.
Read More: Higher Ed Sees Video Conferencing Rise
Shop for collaboration software that meets your student and faculty needs
Dedicated Remote Class Spaces
Though it should come as no surprise that a fully dedicated remote class space would be high on the list, one must consider the importance of getting the right tech for a space like this. Fully dedicated remote classrooms demand considerations not only in available technology but proper usage as well. Multiple cameras to focus on different areas of the classroom (lecturing professor, blackboard area, anything being demonstrated) must be installed and properly designed. Other hardware, such as virtual whiteboards, may also benefit these spaces. Software capable of handling these focus points, as well as sharing notes and applications from the professor to the students is key. Finally, these spaces must be considered for a variety of disciplines, with the right software available for the right discipline.
Shop for video conferencing hardware
While digital archives for academic articles have been around for decades, libraries will need to adapt to have their physical collections available virtually as well. This means universities will have to consider digital licenses to their physical copies, as well as having university-specific resources available digitally. Additionally, because many libraries have software available for students to use in labs, they’ll need to consider virtual desktop or VPN options for access, along with reservation processes for these virtual environments to prevent overloading systems or too many users accessing something at once.
Shop for secure authentication tools that enable your students to access resources from anywhere
Lecture Halls/Large Classrooms
Large lecture environments require the professor to be able to share their lecture notes or presentation with dozens (sometimes hundreds!) of students at once. Using something like a Smart Board creates an easier way to share lecture notes, as well as make the lesson available digitally afterwards. Additionally, a hybrid environment requires a seamless in-person and digital experience. Cameras and sharing notes is critical, as well as being able to capture the audience. Software that can track digital participation is helpful. Additionally, students can take advantage of collaboration software regardless of whether they’re in person or remote.
Read More: Managing Hyflex Classroom Technology
Learn more about the power of Smart Boards
Traditional study spaces will want to be fitted with meeting software and hardware so students can meet and work together in person or work with each other when some are remote. Televisions that are fitted with cameras and hooked up to meeting software used by the campus can make connectivity and communication accessible, and you’ll want to consider how other physical study tools can be used in a digitally collaborative environment. For example, smartboards or whiteboards with designated cameras for sharing work can ensure those collaborating in remote environments don’t miss any crucial study materials, and smartboards can also be set up to share control with those who aren’t physically in the room. Quality microphones will be critical in these areas of campus, so that those working remote can hear their in-person collaborators clearly and without disruption.
Case Study: How One University Handled a Network Upgrade
Look for video collaboration tools that can fit a student’s study space needs
Discipline Specific Labs
Virtual environments and discipline-specific software is crucial to transitioning to hybrid or virtual environments. Remote desktops and cloud-based solutions to access licensed software help with dry labs (think calculations, sitting-behind-a-computer type work). Meanwhile, virtually recreated wet labs (think a person holding a beaker and eyedropper) enable students to continue learning and applying lab experiences in disciplines such as chemistry and biology.
Learn about virtual environment options and other digital workspace options to use for lab-intensive classes
Of Schools are Modifying Physical Spaces to Hybrid Learning Environments
Almost half of all higher education leaders said learning spaces are being modified to support hybrid learning environments. While students may be eager to return to campus, not all students are going to have the same on-campus experience as before. A hybrid learning environment enables more students to educational experiences and earn their degrees, while also supporting educators and faculty to teach in an effective manner.
Learn more about how schools are addressing the hybrid learning environment.
Say Financial Resources is the Top Challenge
The cost of upgrading facilities is the most common blocker to upgrading. One study showed 45% of professionals saying that the need to secure financial resources is one of the top three challenges they face. Additionally, 24% said getting support from their institution was a barrier, and 23% said getting support from their faculty and peers was a challenge.
Hybrid learning environments and hybrid learning experiences are no longer "becoming" an ingrained part of the college experience. Ever since 2020, Hybrid learning environments now "are" a part of a college education. However, the quality and value of these experiences are dependent on the technology available at the university's disposal. If a college lacks the proper technology to offer true hybrid learning experiences, their student body and professors will struggle in academic situations in which hybrid or remote learning may be required. Adapting to this change now enables colleges to scale and grow their efforts as hybrid experiences continue being a critical part of college education.
For more information on higher education offerings from CDW, check out our Higher Education page, as well as some of the articles in both our Research Hub and our EdTech e-zine. And for additional answers to questions you may have, be sure to reach out to your CDW account manager today.