Trends Shaping Higher Education

Technology to Move Outside in 2017

technology accessibility

PHOTO © DEAN DROBOT

I predict that 2017 will see technology accessibility moving and becoming more available outside on campuses in all regions of the country. This prediction is based on the trend in recent years to expand the classroom learning experience beyond four walls, as architects implement such design elements as wider hallways to create informal gathering and social spaces. The next obvious step is to encourage and promote outdoor learning.

For example, Kalamazoo, MIbased Landscape Forms offers a family of mobile device charging stations that enable students to plug in and recharge outdoors. The company has three models: a power pedestal, a charging station with accent light and a charging station with area light. All provide access to power in various configurations of GFCI and/or USB outlets.

Similarly, Suffolk, VA-based Fibrex Group offers a “smart bench,” which harnesses solar energy to provide USB and wireless cell phone charging, WiFi Internet and area lighting, as well as sensor and data gathering. It even has a built-in cooling fan system to keep the seating area below 80°F on hot days.

Enabling technology accessibility outdoors expands both the casual (students gathering to review notes after class, socialize and connect) and formal (think science, literature, agriculture, psychology and more) learning environment. It provides a sense of fullness and wellness to the campus learning experience, as well as meets the needs of students desiring to learn outside of the traditional classroom.

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