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How to adapt educational furniture to the "new normal"
For some years now, education has been undergoing a profound transformation in its methodologies, processes, and the teacher-student relationship. The evolution of society itself, the needs of younger generations, and the new ways they learn, have highlighted just how out of date the traditional teaching model is: overcrowded classes, in most cases obsolete facilities, static classrooms, heavy and inflexible furniture as well as teacher-centred learning.
Internal reviews carried out by the industry itself already highlighted the need to design new educational spaces by establishing a new dialogue with the environment, building spaces that accompany the processes of change in education through more flexible, experiential, digitalised and participatory models to meet current needs, as well as new future scenarios.
In line with Actiu´s, Cool Working philosophy, Actiu has delved into the specialisation and the needs of education, the result of field work carried out in collaboration with experts and end users of the educational spaces. In order to design spaces that foster these paradigms and contribute to learning, experts agree on the need for the new environments to foreground aspects such as the flexibility of the furniture, technology and connectivity, knowledge exchange, and autonomy between users, among other aspects.
In the midst of this change, a global pandemic that has kept us indoors for several months has led to the acceleration and consolidation of new paradigms that are shaping new teaching methods, with the addition of three new concepts that are already deemed to be essential in this new normal: density, distance and hygiene.
The concepts put forward by Actiu are adapted to ensure learning in safe, COVID-19-free environments, through a guide drawn up after having sought advice from various educational establishments that are leaders in fostering and developing a new educational model. It is time to take stock of what is going on around us and where we are headed. Foresee possible adverse scenarios and be prepared to efficiently deal with them: with flexible and collaborative classrooms as well as highly versatile products that adapt to new learning methodologies and ICT.
DOWNLOAD GUIDE: HOW TO ADAPT EDUCATIONAL SPACES TO THE NEW NORMAL
DOWNLOADMore so now than ever before, it is time to consider and reassess what the educational spaces of the present and future will be like, as well as how students and teachers will interact in these spaces.
Technology should be seen as the partner and facilitator of the education process that it is. However, we must not lose sight of including the most vulnerable, whether in terms of resources, levels or skills, and ensure proper access to education, with the right facilities that will help them to carry on learning.
Educational establishments must reduce occupancy ratios to maintain social distancing measures, limit capacity and protect people. Implement attendance protocols, whether on alternate days, mornings or afternoons or other possibilities, as well as rules on how spaces are to be used. Use multi-purpose and flexible furniture that enables the easy changing of the layout of spaces. Transform infrequently used spaces, such as gyms or assembly halls, and communal or transit areas, such as teacher's rooms, cafeterias, libraries, corridors or entrances.
Furthermore, correctly maintaining and cleaning surfaces and materials in any work environment is key to safeguarding health and reducing the chances of contagion. Choosing practical, easy-to-clean materials and products that enable the use of disinfectants is also of utmost importance.
This is challenging for educational establishments. That is why it is important to seek support and advice throughout the process of adaptation, offering a global vision of the project to provide solutions to both immediate needs, brought about by the health crisis, and those forecast for the medium to long term to consolidate an educational model that is more in line with the reality of the stakeholders involved: teachers, students and families.
Returning to the classroom will be one of the turning points in the practical implementation of this new normal, alongisde opening up the country to tourists and kickstarting the catering industry. It will be educational establishments, long viewed as sources of knowledge and know-how, that will offer us the possibility to learn to live together in a new society with new social rules.