Predictions & Trends

Spaces4Learning 2024 Predictions for Educational Facilities: Part 1

We asked our readership to send us their predictions for 2024 trends in educational facilities. Across K–12 and higher-education campuses both, we asked for opinions on topics like technology, flexible learning spaces, campus safety & security, disaster response, and more. This article is the first in a three-part series compiling responses from educational professionals and vendors.

“School facilities are the second-largest sector of public infrastructure spending, yet too often when it comes to planning and design, we end up with the same traditional types of spaces – classrooms, offices, labs, and multipurpose rooms (which usually only end up being used for lunch and performances).  As technology continues to upend the delivery of education in 2024 (think AI lessons, virtual teachers, and more), we will also see more creative and flexible thinking, literally, when it comes to building design.

“Let’s create experiences for students’ and adults’ learning and discovery sessions in an outside space instead of a classroom, and let’s call it a ‘discovery session’ instead of a ‘training’ to shift mindsets and utilize environments that promote stimulation and or reflection to boost engagement and thinking. Let’s create flexible spaces with foundations and walls that can be manipulated for different uses – or even built on-top-of to expand capacity – allowing strategic uses for years to come.  Rethinking our approach to building design and education spaces requires strong, forward-thinking leadership. Let’s make this the year we rise to the challenge!”
– Dr. Maria Armstrong, executive director of the Association of Latino Administrators & Superintendents (ALAS)

“Higher education institutions are embracing the use of immersive experiences on campus, and these installations can be both sophisticated and demanding. In 2024, institutions will increasingly be seeking out adaptable, higher-resolution, cost-effective projection that adds a “wow” factor to campus activities, whether it is a learning activity or a social event. Brighter 4K projectors with 3-chip technology will ensure impeccable detail and excellent color accuracy to better enhance the realism behind the display.”
– Ramzi Shakra, Senior Product Manager, Epson America

“Flexible learning spaces will remain a hot topic in 2024, as well as innovating how to utilize a space in multiple ways. Being located in downtown Tampa, physical space will always be a challenge for us, so it’s important we use spaces in imaginative ways. Most recently, we are adding a multi-purpose space that can be used as a banquet hall, lecture hall, and two classrooms. Technology plays an important role in ensuring each type of setup is successfully utilized. The Epson BrightLink interactive display, for example, takes up little space and is easy for teachers to use while still getting a large, 10-foot interactive image. Our new LED volume will not only be used for large-capacity presentations but will also be utilized to display 3D content in Unreal Engine to form a background for our students to use in their virtual production classes. Having reliable and flexible technology is crucial to reaching the full potential of multi-purpose spaces.”
– Chad Lewis, director of technology at Tampa Prep School

“Data security is a constant concern in education, and it’s important for school districts to have measures in place to ensure student records are protected and yet still easily accessible for authorized personnel. We are seeing a movement away from paper-based records, and instead, districts are moving toward cloud-based platforms for storage and management of student records. This frees up valuable building space which can be turned into flex rooms, and for some districts, it eliminates the need for off-site storage facilities while also protecting the records from potential environmental damage such as fire or water. As districts are considering going paperless, re-evaluating their cybersecurity plans, ensuring records management platforms are FERPA compliant, and encrypting data will be important parts of the discussion.”
–John Gillies, VP of Engineering, Scribbles Software

“Providing engaging, immersive experiences to supplement lessons and connect students more deeply with academic content will continue to be a significant focus for schools this year. As districts look to utilize ESSER funding for technology, we will see a rise in the purchase of virtual reality hardware and technology to help bring these experiences into the classroom – whether it’s taking students on a virtual field trip to a far-away city or virtually going inside a blood vessel to learn about the circulatory system. A cart of VR headsets can be moved from classroom to classroom, requiring only an outlet for charging, allowing schools to bring these new experiences to students in traditional classrooms, STEM labs, media centers, or any setting in between. Using the cart for a whole-classroom experience or grouping the headsets for use in several classrooms, the investment can be shared amongst the whole student body. VR technology provides the ability to extend learning beyond the four classroom walls, without travel expenses or changes to existing infrastructure. As districts consider bringing VR technology to their schools, ease of use, flexibility, bang for the buck, and quality of content will be key considerations.”
–Chris Klein, VP of Educational Services for Avantis Education (creators of ClassVR)

“Gen Z college students are all about experiences, and their campus tour can make or break their decision to enroll. As institutions seek to boost enrollment, they will pivot to focus more on what experience the institution wants to offer students. Physical spaces that go beyond function to provide a ‘wow factor’ can help sway a student’s decision to enroll. At Baylor University, the creative approach we took when building our new welcome center changed how we will approach building design from now on. We installed 4K large venue Epson projectors and a massive presentation screen that retracts to reveal impressive floor-to-ceiling windows and a panoramic vista of campus. We started with the vision first, then the technology, then the brick-and-mortar. It’s an experience that impresses, and I expect we will see more of this sort of experience-driven design throughout higher education this year.”
– Jason Cook, vice president of marketing & communications/chief marketing officer; and Ross VanDyke, associate vice president of enrollment management, marketing & recruitment for Baylor University in Texas

“Technology replacement cycles will continue to move along in 2024. Educators need new ways to display and interact with content in classrooms, and facilities managers need technology solutions that are easy to install and maintain. Historically, the disconnect between AV and IT and facilities teams has caused a limit to seamless integration across various technology solutions within classrooms. Facilities managers are typically not technology professionals and prefer technology solutions that use existing infrastructure, offer improved total cost of ownership, and are easy to replace when the time comes. This year, projector manufacturers will continue to innovate with their display technology to make it both innovative and solution driven.”
– Remi Del Mar, senior product manager for K-12 projectors at Epson America

“Tools that are well-designed to support collaboration among remote teams are still needed. Imagine making new medical devices where the main manufacturing plant is in the U.S., but the software is being developed in England, the precision instruments in Germany, and the user interface in India. Collaboration tools that prevent or reduce the team’s reliance on in-person meetings would be a huge savings in time, money, and other resources, and the collaboration tools would be valuable across education and industry applications. In 2024, we will see a focus on retrofitting higher education classrooms and meeting spaces with videoconferencing/remote learning technologies to facilitate collaboration with off-site partners. For instance, using Epson interactive projectors with integrated cameras, microphones and intuitive controls can help facilitate virtual meetings and remote learning opportunities in higher education settings.”
- Nick Swayne, president of North Idaho College