PODCAST: Universities reassess campus design

Collaboration takes centre stage in the post-COVID campus

May 06, 2022

Universities are prioritising an equal experience for on-campus and remote students as hybrid teaching and learning become the new norm.

The massive retreat of students during COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions forced universities to fast-track technology for virtual teaching and learning, as well as reassess their spaces to be future-fit.

For example, the Learning and Teaching Building at Monash University’s Clayton campus, in Victoria, has writable surfaces that can be shared on a large central screen to encourage interactivity for students both in the building and online.

“We haven't even seen the academics use this technology to all of its potential,” says David Bruce, space planning and development manager at Monash University. “But they’re innovative and they'll work out new ways of using this technology to create even better lesson plans as it evolves.”

As well as technology to support hybrid learning, collaborative styles of teaching and learning are quickly replacing the didactic style, where lecturers simply deliver information to students, in a lecture hall, for example. The workplace aspect of campuses are also undergoing a shift to be less hierarchical.

“At Monash, we're not trying to pull our academic out of offices. We understand and respect the type of work they do and we're leaving them in cellular spaces. But what we are understanding is the individual focus that there has been in the past in academia, where they've been the single arbiters of knowledge, that's changed. It's now become a collaborative focus,” Bruce says.

Universities will continue to face new challenges over the coming years, including changing student and staff expectations, increasing competition and financial constraints, says Dinesh Acharya, education solutions lead – consulting, for JLL.

“Technology also continues to evolve at an accelerating rate, and there are real questions about how learning environments may evolve in the future. Will we see more immersive learning environments? Will we enter the metaverse and be engaging and learning in the virtual realm? What impact will that have for the physical campus?”

David Bruce and Dinesh Acharya discuss the post-COVID university campus on JLL’s Perspectives podcast. You can listen to the episode here.

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