People sitting on chairs in a building.

Learning institutions are evolving to meet students’ needs and adapt to a hybrid learning experience. As students look to schools not just as places of learning — but as places to feel safe, engaged, and included — there will be an ongoing emphasis on educating and nurturing the whole student and their well-being.

University of California, Riverside Student Success Center, Riverside, Calif.

Future hybrid learning environments must embrace choice.

According to Gensler’s Education Engagement Index, 68% of students and 74% of educators want a hybrid approach — a model that includes a combination of in-person and remote learning methods. For schools, this means designing for hyper-flexible and tech-enabled learning environments that can provide students and educators a choice. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Technology allows institutions to engage with students in a personalized way, providing flexibility and agility in learning environments.

Equity, safety, and engagement will be key design considerations.

To ensure success and address inequities in education, the post-pandemic school must address both equity and engagement, along with safety, belonging, and basic needs. Gensler’s research has shown that the “average learner” is a myth, and instead of designing one optimal universal learning experience, it is imperative to design education spaces for multiple pathways for engagement for each student.

Creating wellness ecosystems on campus is essential.

To adapt to the post-COVID needs of students, schools, colleges, and universities need to explore how the concept of wellness can be integral to everyday campus life. Whether designing a new facility, creating a new campus master plan, or developing programs, solutions must be holistically student-centric and stigma-free. Building an ecosystem around wellness provides different access points for students on and off campus, and in virtual and physical settings.

The evolution of the academic workplace will impact campus planning.

Academic institutions are taking cues from other industries by planning and designing campuses that can welcome faculty and staff into a healthier, more engaging, and more effective workplace. In addition to workstations and offices, academic institutions should consider a toolkit of spaces that support creativity, collaboration, focus, and engagement with students and colleagues.
A group of people in a room.
University of San Diego Learning Commons, San Diego
“If we are to design for all learners, our goal should not be to design one optimal and fixed experience for all students, but to design for diverse and evolving ways to engage.”
A group of people in a library.
Georgetown Day School, Washington, D.C.
“68% of students and 74% of educators want a hybrid approach — a model that includes a combination of in-person and remote learning methods.”