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Testing Hybrid Learning Space: 7 Key Takeaways

Posted by Steelcase on April 26, 2023

Hybrid learning in the classroom – like hybrid work at the office – is here to stay and will continue to grow. Through OMNIA Partners, Public Sector, Steelcase provides solutions for hybrid learning and workplace furniture solutions to support this growing need. According to a recent global Anthology/UNESCO study, students overwhelmingly support having a hybrid option at their university or college. In fact, many say they need it to remain in school and be successful. Although schools – both K-12 and higher education – were first pressed by the pandemic into adopting emergency virtual learning options, there is still a wide gap in understanding effective and versatile ways to make both remote and in-person connections equitable, engaging and easy-to-use for educators and learners alike.


Steelcase partnered with technology leaders Zoom, Microsoft and Logitech, and designed four new hybrid classrooms with integrated technology at its Learning and Innovation Center on the Grand Rapids, Michigan campus. Researchers gathered feedback through surveys, observations and interviews with in-person and remote participants who used the spaces. They measured if the spaces were easy-to-use (intuitive tech and easy to navigate environments), engaging (everyone can see and interact with content) and equitable (everyone hear and be heard, use shared and individual devices effectively). Here’s what they found in each space and the seven key takeaways researchers identified.

Steelcase | OMNIA Partners

Want to learn more? Read 7 Lessons for Hybrid Classroom Design from Steelcase.




1. Simple Wins Every Time
The first few minutes are critical for a successful hybrid experience. Using hybrid classrooms should be intuitive, uncomplicated and human-centered with simple technology that anyone can quickly learn and adopt. This applies to set up, transitions between activities and troubleshooting if something goes wrong. Steelcase offers a variety of furniture solutions, through OMNIA Partners, Public Sector, to ensure your space is functional and encourages a human-centered approach.

2. Humanize Remote Participants
Remote participants should experience and be represented within the physical space as if they were there. They should feel embedded, not just there to observe. Camera views should provide the most natural view and make it easy to distinguish who is speaking. Find ways to bring remote participants off the wall and into the space when possible.

3. Make the Tech Movable
Technology should be as dynamic and flexible as the experience requires. Ensure the camera and technology let facilitators move around the room while engaging with the tools. Instead of technology dictating if and when students can move, ensure the needs of students and activities drive the movement and use of technology.

4. See It All. Don’t Overwhelm.
Participants should be able to easily see what they need to, at any time. However, sightlines should not be complicated and uncoordinated. Being able to see content and remote joiners at the same time is important. These consolidated visuals allow for coordinated sightlines and a shared experience. But be thoughtful about what everyone is seeing when all devices are in use. Multiple screens can create an overloaded, repetitive experience.

5. Energize, Equalize Through Analog
It’s important for analog tools to still have a presence, as they create energy by encouraging teachers and students to move. When you enable analog tools to be shared digitally, they can be a bridge between in person and remote students, letting everyone have a shared experience by seeing the same thing happen at the same time.

6. Build the Basics with Audio
Hearing is essential to engagement. Participants should always be able to hear and be heard. Achieve a baseline level of audio in every hybrid experience. People should not have to speak at a level they’re not used to and that seems unnatural. Aim to create more of a discussion and reduce strain.

7. Solve for Small Group Hybrid
Small group activities are important and impactful learning experiences. Support engaging small groups with digital and analog tools. Organize breakouts around people, not technology. Mobile furniture and devices create more seamless transitions. Solving for small groups also includes considering how people can hear clearly without background distractions, and how analog tools can be shared virtually.


OMNIA Partners & Steelcase

In partnership with OMNIA PartnersSteelcase provides office furniture solutions to local government entities, vocational schools, K-12 educational facilities and nonprofits (excluding hospitals and healthcare related entities) nationwide. This competitively solicited and publicly awarded cooperative contract reduces the cost of goods and services by aggregating the collective buying power of public sector agencies and streamlines the buying process. Click the button below to learn more and start transforming your spaces today!



Topics: K-12 Education, Higher Education, Cooperative Purchasing