GREEN BAY, WI - There are significant changes occurring in higher education. Students and faculty are working in teams to solve problems and complete projects, classrooms are becoming more active places, and learning is taking place outside of the traditional classroom.
The impact of these trends on design and student success is the topic of a series of seminars from KI titled, "Advanced Learning Spaces: Trends in Higher Education." KI's vice president of education markets, Nat Porter, recently traveled across the country sharing his insights on the future of design in educational facilities with educators, architects and designers.
"The changes happening in higher education are changing the design of college campuses today," explains Porter. "These seminars allow us to share the trends and issues we are experiencing around the country with both educators and designers through some of the innovative projects we're seeing and are involved in. More importantly, it gives us the opportunity to hear from them about the local and regional trends they're experiencing."
Attendees cite a growing need for flexibility and furnishings that easily incorporate technology into today's classrooms as the most common requests among students and faculty. Many attended the seminars to gather ideas on how to best maximize classroom space and provide a more active learning environment.
"Our primary challenge involves finding a classroom setup that accommodates a shared learning space," says Steve Warszawski, instructional support specialist, Canisius College, who attended a recent seminar in Buffalo, NY. "We find that one instructor wants a classroom set up in a certain way, and the next instructor wants it laid out differently. We're looking for solutions that will encourage flexibility and collaboration without having to constantly move furniture from room to room or floor to floor."
Kelly Hayes McAlonie, AIA, LEED AP, and associate vice president of Cannon Design, also attended the seminar. She echoed the need for mobility and technological support in the classrooms they design.
"With our clients, the number one request is for flexibility," she says. "Every time a new space is built we get requests for tables instead of desks, furniture that is moveable and can accommodate laptops. It was great to see some of the interesting spaces being developed in schools now, and to learn the ways in which we can improve upon existing spaces."
One project that exemplifies this new outlook on learning spaces is Loyola University New Orleans' new library. KI is working with the school's faculty, library and technology staff, consultants, and designers to renovate the space, making it a more social, less formal and more collaborative environment. The latest design offers students shared workspaces, more access to faculty and library administrators, a café and lounge area and plenty of computer access.
"The shift that's taking place in libraries now is very exciting to us," adds Porter. "Because they're more open and neutral areas, we see them as a place for experimentation; places where we can truly observe the way students interact and what design elements will work best in higher education."
Porter has shared his knowledge of libraries and learning spaces with more than 100 seminar attendees across the United States. The seminar qualifies for Health, Safety and Welfare (HSW) Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through the American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Society for Interior Designers (ASID) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
KI manufactures innovative furniture and wall system solutions for education, healthcare, government, and corporate markets. The employee-owned company is headquartered in Green Bay, WI, and operates sales offices and manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. KI tailors products and service solutions to the specific needs of each customer through its unique "Market of One" customer service and manufacturing philosophy. For more information, visit www.kieducation.com.