The only constant in life is change.
Translated from the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus, it is unexceptionally applicable to the theories and strategies of higher education.
If we look back at the past few decades we can observe the exponential rate at which technology has metamorphized the reality of colleges and universities. Items such as overhead projectors have been replaced by interactive monitors, and spaces such as lecture halls have become experience driven reverse classrooms. Students are active learners, and professors are taking on new roles, not as instructors, but as educational facilitators. In the dynamic context of higher education, how do we plan for a future that is moving at the breakneck speed of 21st century technology?
Every room on the campus of tomorrow must be prepared to wear a multitude of hats. Classroom space must dance a complex ballet of organized technology, interactive learning, and multi-use opportunity. Successful educational spaces must provide for transformation like a lab or shop space with unlimited options for open adaptation. Data and power must be readily available throughout, connections must transform and adapt to accommodate system updates and the latest system specs, and furnishings must provide convenient flexibility for a multitude of unique arrangements between and during classroom activities.
Interaction within the classroom today enables the generation of ideas to solve problems. Multiple students from diverse majors work together to create new concepts and apply solutions. This fantastic exchange does not occur just between students but throughout the faculty and staff as well. Co-location of different departments, or even colleges themselves, is a common occurrence. Information sharing is evidenced by impromptu huddle sessions that bridge knowledge gaps and offer insight into complex problem solving. Technology is another tool that aids collaboration. As face-to-face is not always possible, networks and shared display screens offer the perfect medium for communicating beyond the four walls of the classroom or office.
As print rapidly migrates to digital, the role of libraries in the world of academia is constantly evolving. This digital migration, along with countless mobile devices, offers instantaneous transmission of knowledge resources that will change the need and function of many historically significant academic structures. Not all books will go the way of the 5 ¼” floppy, but the square footage that used to house the Funk & Wagnalls has now been repurposed as a coffee shop.