Impact on Learning

The March issue of College Planning & Management is one of my favorites because it features our Impact on Learning program. It has always been my personal belief that the facilities our students attend impact their health, safety, and ability to learn. Poorly maintained, overcrowded classrooms or temporary trailers are not conducive to learning. Why then do facilities end up at the bottom of our wish list?

Adequate school facilities are not a luxury. They are an integral part of a good education. The effect of good facilities is felt not only by students, but by the community as well. It all works together … business and industry are attracted to locations where good schools create a well-qualified workforce and a higher standard of living. The increased wages paid to these skilled workers will also add to the gross domestic product and to tax revenues, providing communities with the dollars needed to provide other valued services for residents. Everybody wins!

But how can we create good schools with limited funds? By spending wisely and making every dollar count. If you read last month’s construction report, you may have noticed that schools and universities are shifting their focus from building new to repairing, replacing, and retrofitting their existing facilities. This means looking at purchases through a different lens and taking into account more than the lowest sale price, which is not always synonymous with lowest cost.

A noticeable “ripple effect” of advantages can result from a simple, well thought out change. For example, 21st-century learning requires a collaborative environment. The selection of flexible furniture will support varied teaching and learning styles, accommodate individual and group instruction, encourage collaboration, blur the lines between formal and informal learning spaces, and make better use of available space. Proper lighting and lighting controls can save energy and facilitate the use of various audio-visual technologies. Healthy environments mean fewer sick days and more learning. Building green saves energy, conserves water, and improves health. Superior facilities help attract students and inspire excellence.

Every decision we make has an impact on learning. We can guarantee that our students will have safe, secure, and nurturing places in which to learn by making informed decisions based on more than lowest cost. If you don’t have funding to do it all … add to the plus column by improving your educational environments one piece at a time. 

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