The ever-evolving nature of digital technology is reshaping our environment. This is impacting our school system as the requirement to access information in real time reshapes teaching and learning methods. How do you accommodate such rapidly changing technology into existing schools and use this tool to best enable student learning?
To begin with, digital technology’s rapid changes contrasts with our school buildings static structure. Digital technology allows an update with a new and improved version every year. When it comes to schools, you can’t simply rebuild at an equivalent rate. Most of our schools are comprised of mid-20th century building stock so a school’s ability to keep up is limited by the adaptability of existing buildings.
Edmiston Jones has been working with Edmund Rice College on their conversion of an existing Monastery to a contemporary Creative Arts Centre. The Centre incorporates the latest digital technologies including interactive screens and access to digital information in every studio and learning space. The aim is to encourage a collaborative teaching and learning. One Workshop has multiple interactive touch screens, allowing teachers to move within the space and engage with all students, not simply to ‘stand and deliver’ at the front of the classroom.
This brings us to another challenge. How to best use these digital tools to help students learn? Outside of school hours, students are using current technologies as the preferred form of communication. By schools incorporating these tools the student learning experience is facilitated and becomes an interaction in a format they relate to. The challenge for architects is to provide flexible interiors that enable these advancing technologies to support contemporary methods of learning. Technology then, must serve to engage, not distract.
Well-designed schools must seamlessly integrate evolving technology to enable teachers to do what they do best – empower our children with the skills needed for a lifetime of learning.