On 11 June 2020 Steelcase and 21st Century Learning International hosted a panel discussion on “What’s Next? Navigating Challenges to Learning Spaces”. We brought together a panel of key educators and administrators from around the region to reflect on what they have learned from the recent period of school closure, how they are planning for school resuming, as well as sharing their longer term ideas. The conversation was centered around learning spaces but if you watch the video you’ll see it goes much deeper into change management, wellness of the community and what the future of learning might look like in the new reality we face.
Please watch in the video below, and take a look at some of the key quotes from the webinar below.
Learnings from Period of Online Learning
One of the one of the amazing takeaways that I’ve had, as a professional in the education business now for 15 years, is holy smokes – we’ve proven to ourselves that we can make rapid, fundamental change in what we do and how we do it overnight just like that.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain
We’ve seen much greater literacy in using technology. Technology currently operates in the periphery of learning. It’s a support. It’s a contributor to the learning experience. Perhaps what will happen from this, is we will begin to look at what’s important around technology. And I think in the future, drawing on the power of technology to process to make sense of evidence, information, data, so that it can become much more central to learning.
Perhaps where we might get to is a repositioning of what’s important in learning with a focus on child development, independence, while being away from traditional focus on measured outcomes in the sense of exams.
When we first moved to online learning, there was a large debate about which was right platform: Microsoft, Zoom, etc. There is no right tool – it’s what works for your community.
We have an opportunity to get down to the real gold of what makes a difference in classrooms for teachers to enhance the learning for students
This was a catalyst for great change and transformation. But these innovations may well serve to carry education to other challenges that may have shut down learning in the past,
On Returning to Campus “Post Covid”
Never forget the simple stuff. Have you got enough face masks? Have you got the disinfectant gel, have you got your temp stations set up and do you have batteries in your temp gun? It’s the little things that make a big difference for people feeling that when they send their kids in, there’s that confidence that they’re going to be well looked after and are going to be kept safe.
We had to literally to go in and just reconfigure all those learning spaces from scratch, which was really, really useful because it makes people rethink. What do we actually need to be successful? And decluttering was a wonderful thing to watch.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain
Learning didn’t stop. And once again, those teachers that stuck with what we understand about learning, made it personalized, made it collaborative, made it engaging. We found that there has been a greater use of technology for collaboration as opposed to physically being together
Solutions should be highly adaptable, so space can change quickly in response to unplanned future disruptions.
Thinking For the Future
One of our big bits of work at the moment is resisting an organizational return to the old way. It’s been such a difficult period emotionally and physically with social distancing and everything else. And that for us is as one of our mainstays – to have the conversations about how do we anchor this into being our new normal, celebrate, embrace, move forward and develop
Dr. Jessica Hale
Educators have been asking for a revolution in education and it’s happening. In any revolution, there’s discomfort. But I think ultimately we’ll come out on the other side really changing what we’re doing, our instructional strategies for the better as educators.
Dr. Jessica Hale
We’ve learned a lot. Ultimately, I think this has been a great process for us as educators to really take a deep, deep look into what we value and to change our practice.
Hopes for the Future
Dr. Ahmed Hussain
We’ve been able to look at how we use those learning spaces and how we maximize the space we have and we’ve also seen huge developments in children’s independence as learners. And I hope that’s something that we as an organization take on and further develop.
Learning space must be designed with a deeper commitment to the well-being of the students and faculty. We talk about physical well-being and we talk about cognitive well-being. – the most important is emotional well-being.
It feels like people are more open. People are more embracing of change and more willing to talk about change. And that, again, is the gold that we have to mine and dig to be able to make this last. Otherwise, that risk of it falling back is very top of mind for me.
Dr. Jessica Hale
I’m hopeful that we embrace the change and that we’re very intentional about what we keep and we’re very intentional about what we do away with.
Full Transcript (Lightly edited)
Justin Hardman [00:00:11] OK, I’m going to kick off. My name’s Justin Hardman, one of the directors of 21st Century Learning International, we’re Hong Kong based organization. We’re putting this webinar on today in conjunction with Steelcase. I’ve got Ambroise sitting next to me and thank you to all. We just had north of 500 people register from 43 countries around the world. We’re sitting here today in the beautiful Steelcase offices in Hong Kong. And we have panelists that will introduce in a second from Hong Kong, China and Malaysia.
Justin Hardman [00:00:43] Our topic today is what’s next? Navigating challenges to learning spaces. And we hope to have an energizing, and informative discussion with all of our panelists. As we go through many of you will no doubt have your own questions. So we encourage you to submit those via the Q&A function in Zoom, which you should find in the bottom bar. And we have someone on the call, Graeme, one of my colleagues, who will be looking at those questions and suggesting which of them to answer at the end. At this point, I’d like to hand it over to Ambroise, who will give us some opening remarks from Steelcase.
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:01:19] Thank you, just sing for the introduction and for this great opportunity again to partner with 21st Century Learning International for the fifth consecutive year. So thank you all for joining today from all around the world with the majority from Asia Pacific.
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:01:36] A special thanks to Sunil, Jessica, Ahmed and John. Our great panelists who accepted our invitation to explore the Now, Near and Far challenges to learning spaces. My name is on Ambroise and I’m taking care of the education segment at Steelcase in Asia-Pacific.
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:01:56] I have been 13 years between Shanghai and Hong Kong and now 18 years within the company.
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:02:06] Our reputation comes from one hundred years of experience in creating innovative learning environments with learning institutions around the world.
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:02:16] So why are we so passionate about this panel today? Recently the Steecase education team has been helping schools and universities to anticipate the change, the transformation and the evolution of education by designing and furnishing their learning spaces. At Steelcase we have been observing the new world by looking at those three areas: the now, the near, and the far. So I guess it’s the perfect time today to reflect together about navigating what is next. I’m handing over to Justin
Justin Hardman [00:02:53] OK. So without further ado, I’m just going to introduce our panelists today. So first off, we have Dr. Ahmed Hussian from Wellington College, China. He’s joining us today from Shanghai, Sunil Talwar, from Chinese international school. Director of operations was also here in Hong Kong. Dr. Jessica Hale joining us. Well, joining us technically from the U.S., she’s up late at one a.m., but from Oasis International School in Kuala Lumpur. And then finally, Jon Stewart, who is Director of Facilities for English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong.
[00:03:33] So we’ll just jump right into the questions. And as I said, we’re structuring this around three sections. So at the moment, we find ourselves at a time of great uncertainty as the world faces this global pandemic, among other things that that we haven’t experienced in the recent past. As we all know, schools by their nature are organizations that typically are highly planned and to an extent thrive on predictability and routines. Covid forced schools, I think, quickly react and adjust in real time to emerging situations. So I’d like each of you to just respond, maybe starting with the order of the names I read out with Ahmed first. What did you learn during this early period of reopening? And in terms of how you set up your schools, the learning but balancing that safety in mind?
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:04:24] I think we’ve learned a lot in recent months. So definitely recent weeks the schools have reopened. I think we’ve learned to have much more confidence in our infrastructure, the things we do to help keep people safe. We’ve learned a great deal about regulations, how we implement them. We are much more confident in our pupils level of independence. Actually, that’s been a key finding of the number of studies we’ve led and having to harness that post e-learning school closure,.
Justin Hardman [00:05:01] Perhaps if we want to just go along to the next person. Sunil, if we want to reflect on what you’ve been learning in this period of reopening.
Sunil Talwar [00:05:10] To carry on to what Ahmed was saying. We surely realized that buy in and trust from the community, which plays a huge role in whatever actions we take or did not take. CIS in general, we went over and above, beyond the normal government guidelines when it came to safety or acceptance with preopening, that allowed us to have the trust of all our stakeholders. And as we’ve opened, we have put in very strict rules in place which are not compromisable in any case or for anybody. And we have to make hard decisions: should we provide lunch or should we not provide lunch? Because that’s a big piece of having everybody in a large space and unable to social distance them because of in Hong Kong, we don’t have the space to do that. And I think you’re one of the few schools who. Again, the difficulties you’re going on a hybrid model. But once again, whatever works for your community is a big piece over here because they have to buy into it. And that gives them trust. And moving forward, we already are putting plans in place that this is not going away. We may have another week or two in the academic year. So, people are… and it’s pure change management. [00:06:44]People have to just be addressed and made me feel confident, whatever we do to go along with us and taking the necessary positive or negative feedback, especially the families.I’ll pass on to. [17.6s]
Sunil Talwar [00:07:06] That’s great. Jessica, I know you haven’t resumed school yet this school year, but they do talk us through what your thinking is and how you’re planning that out
Dr. Jessica Hale [00:07:15] Sure. So we’re in a unique position in that we were able to end the year with remote learning. And I think just to add to that, if there are schools that are looking to end and not start back until the new term just finding ways to end the year well and celebrate what was accomplished, I think was really important. We did a parade where teachers stood a meter apart and waved to the kids as they did a drive through the school parking lot. That was really special. Our next steps are following the government’s SOPs and just having three skeleton plans for reopening. Think one thing we learned was we didn’t have a really solid continuity of learning policy, which can or cannot and can include health. It depends on the school that can include some of the health procedures as well. But but tightening up that continuity of learning policy and then just, I think Sunil had a great point is there is a lot of value in going a little bit above and beyond even what the government is requiring because it does build confidence in the community. So being responsive, I think is important and agile and able to change quickly with government requirements.
Justin Hardman [00:08:34] All great points. And now John.
John Stewart [00:08:38] Thank you very much. I would echo colleagues 100 percent Sunil and I’s context is, of course, very similar. We’re both in Hong Kong. We went than approach here. We’re 22 schools our kindergartens haven’t been able to resume classes. So we’ve got 17 schools that have resumed. And we took a decision that we were going to go 100 percent learning, which was continuity of distance and online and then 50 percent in school for the whole day. So some of the things that Sunils mentioned, lunch and so on, we took a decision that actually go into the effort at bringing the kids in. Let’s keep them in for the whole day. So it’s every other day. And so that was that’s been successful thus far. Some of the points that Jessica has made how to celebrate end of the year, how to manage transitions between primary and secondary. You know, how do you make that stuff happen that really cements the experience for kids? It’s tough. And you’ve got to find ways. And we are thinking ways, trust and confidence of the community is an approach we took was we established overarching principles across all the schools. We did that together. We could co-created those, but then we layered in local context, which is absolutely critical. And that’s where the trust element comes in. The school community is families, the students, the bus service providers, the staff, everybody else. They understand the local context, the challenges, things that we’re learning. Understanding, the impact on us on staff day to day. There’s not a lot going on with blended model where you’ve got online support and you’ve got kids coming in and you’ve got facemasks to match to manage and temperature checks to take and all those fun things, sort of making sure that we understand that and we learn from that and we carry that forward and evolve the thinking and practice. And I guess that the last thing for me is [00:10:28]never forget the simple stuff. Have you got enough face masks? Have you you got the disinfectant gel, you’ve got your temp stations set up if you got batteries in your temp gun. It’s the little things that make a big difference for people feeling that when they when they send their kids in, there’s that confidence that they’re going to be well looked after and are going to be kept safe. [16.3s] So, yeah, there’s lots to learn for sure. Sunil, did you want to follow up on that?
Sunil Talwar [00:10:54] Yeah, just to add to what John and Jessica mentioned, closure is important here for all. All parties are against your fact, your students, of course, your faculty and your supporting teams. And just following on guidelines where the kindergartens are not allowed to come in, we had to come up with a closure strategy where the teachers met the small groups of kindergarten kids in a park far away, where they still could have the closure for these little ones. For your supporting teams, you have your end of year celebrations and things like that for a job well done, which the schools are not able to do right now. That also is the trying to be delivered in smaller groups of some sort because this blended model – it’s a big major mental shift to a system which we have been so used to for the last 100 years. And we’re really kind of reinventing the wheel on the emotional side and not only on the physical side. When you talk about handhelds, the emotional piece is very, very important.
Sunil Talwar [00:12:02] And we made sure we had all our support group and counselors available at all time to all stakeholders. To add to what and Jessica said.
John Stewart [00:12:16] Can I just just just jump in? I mean, I hope this is OK. But again, Sunil, absolutely critical that staff feel and are well-supported. We’ve been learning there is such a broad spectrum of response and reaction, not just to a new way of teaching and interacting with students in school, but in Hong Kong. We had protests. We had social unrest. Then we go ahead with got hit with Covid. And the the emotional impact of that on staff well-being is something that we’ve been really, really keen to to keep an eye on. And again, to your point, really important if you can start to get resources ready to deploy on that. We had educational psychologists and psychologists come and give talks, give Zoome sessions, I should say, when we got into Covid. I’m just talking about it makes a difference because it opens up that dialog for people to say, OK, I am feeling this way. And it’s OK to share that. And that’s where the good conversation time.
Sunil Talwar [00:13:14] And the organization cares.
John Stewart [00:13:16] Yes.
Sunil Talwar [00:13:20] Justin, your microphone is off.
John Stewart [00:13:29] Ahmed, are you back?
Justin Hardman [00:13:30] Sorry about that. Yeah, better you back.
John Stewart [00:13:33] I don’t think so.
Justin Hardman [00:13:36] Hopefully we manage to get Ahmed on the call. Whilst we’re waiting on that I want to just give Ambroise a chance to talk about what it’s been learning from the market. Like 21st century learning, a lot of the organizations that are working with schools. There’s an opportunity that Covid has presented an opportunity for us to kind of take a step back and reflect and learn more from what everyone’s doing. So what are the observed and learn from the schools?
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:14:02] Yes. First of all, there are like four categories of schools. I mean, those, as I still closed, like in the U.S, in Thailand, or Korea, Those that are the partially reopening Australia and Hong Kong. You were mentioning Hong Kong, John, that primary school are not yet open. Those who are fully reopening like China or Malaysia and those who have always been open since they won like Vietnam or New Zealand for those partially or fully reopening there. They all had to set up a PR team or if you are familiar with this pandemic response team, PRT to address the health and safety that Sunil was talking about, of students returning to schools by setting up new regulation and protocols, by training educators and students to respect those rules. So at Steelcase we call this first wave the “retrofit” stage of learning spaces. What can we do now to respond to immediate needs? So the initial action was to deal with physical distancing by using key principle for this retrofit stage. So by lowering the density of learning spaces and their population. Number two is by changing the geometry of the furniture arrangements. And last but not least, by designing screens, panels, other barriers. So that’s on the learning space, perspective.
John Stewart [00:15:44] Let’s jump in there. I mean, was that was a key factor, certainly for us. I’m just reflecting on our class resumption planning. We had to rapidly devise responses to government requests. So sorry. Preface this with the way that kids learned in all of our schools is not in rows facing one direction. It’s not Chalk and Talk. Right. But when the government announced its plans to alert classes to resume, there was an initial position which was its face to back in rows facing one direction. So to Ambroises point, we had to rapidly evolve. Hey, what can our learning spaces look like. Not that we’re doing it in rows. The Education Bureau relaxed their thinking a little bit and give us some wiggle room. But how do you make that work? We’ve got 30 kids in our classes and primary something similar in secondary. And the solution we had was the 50 percent model. So that basically gives us not that desaturated, space use on a day to day basis. And then we just had to get literally teachers and EA’s and support staff and everybody, principals and classrooms rearranging and tables and chairs and desks and hey, how might this look and feel so that it enhances the learning experience for kids? One of our approaches, we developed three simple tests, before we reopened and got classes back in. One could be comply with their requirements? Two, does it enhance the learning? Because if it doesn’t, why would we do it? And then can we all go together and do something similar? The last one makes sense. But the piece about enhancing the learning was actually one of the most difficult but the most deep conversation is, OK, we can bring them back in. But if it’s in road face to back, this is not an enhanced learning experience. So you [00:17:32]literally had to go in and just reconfigure all those learning spaces from scratch, which was really, really useful because it makes people rethink. What do we actually need to be successful? And de cluttering was a wonderful thing to watch. [13.4s] If I may.
Sunil Talwar [00:17:49] And just to add to what John said it is absolutely on the mark about going and rearranging all the spaces and whether they bring any value, and I’m giving the limitation of Hong Kong’s physical footprint places on all our campuses, you know, run through the 50% models of alternate days or half days or whatever works. But it would also so much pressure on the faculty. They just know from February onwards. They got. It took them on a month or a month and a half to get used to just doing online delivery. And now two months after that, we do have to come back and now they have to do online and face to face the same lesson and have to try and support the kids who are not able to come in for whatever reason, are stuck in different countries or parents are uncomfortable sending them in. So those there is all that emotional and mental stress and how help support them with their needs. It’s just a different, different landscapes.
Justin Hardman [00:18:53] Yeah, that’s that’s all great. I want to bring you into the conversation Jessica. I know that, you know, first the other networks wherein we talk a lot, you know, prior to Covid about exciting new models for learning, project based learning that all of these things involve social interactions. And so with Covid, has the world of learning changed? Can we still get on board with some of these new exciting learning modalities with the potenital restrictions that are creating a healthy and safe environment?
Dr. Jessica Hale [00:19:25] So when I’m asked this question, I respond with I’m more excited about what’s happened in the past six months because [00:19:34]educators have been asking for a revolution in education and it’s happening. [3.5s] We couldn’t have changed the way we teach and we wouldn’t have radically changed the way we teach if anything else had happened. So ultimately, I’m super excited. I think it’s going to for it has forced teachers to think more in terms of blended learning models. And I think it’s important to delineate between when we talk about blended approaches and blended learning. We talk about blended learning. We’re talking about giving students choice over the pace of their learning and what they’re learning. And that’s really been happening in this shift to remote learning. So I do think ultimately, yes, project based student choice, personalization and blended learning models are all of thing, all instructional strategies that we’re coming in to play and really have been forced to come into play. Another piece of the puzzle I think they’ve been excited about in a digital learning spaces is the change in perspective of assessment. There’s not a lot of good digital platforms out there for delivering formal assessments. There are some. I’m kind of excited about that because it forces us to do more project based and again, personalized learning experience and move away from this traditional assessment models. So I think ultimately that gets us into more comfortable spaces in our digital learning environments. I can’t. I have ideas about what the physical spaces look like. Ultimately, I think and I’m curious about John and Sunil’s experience with this. If we as educators value a collaboration among our students, how do we still facilitate that in these flexible learning spaces? With social distancing. So that’s something I’m chewing on right now. And I’m curious the thoughts on the panel for that. But as far as the digital digital spaces, I’m excited about it. And ultimately, if there’s any revolution, my background as a history teacher. So get me started [00:21:38]in any revolution, there’s discomfort. But I think ultimately we’ll come out on the other side really changing what we’re doing, our instructional strategies for the better as educators. [8.5s]
Justin Hardman [00:21:49] Thanks a lot, Jessica. John, I see your hand, but I’m getting word that Ahmed is back on the call. I just want to give him an opportunity to maybe respond to what Jessica just offered there if he’s able. Are you there Ahmed?
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:22:03] Yes, I am. Thank you, Justin. Just following from what Jessica said, I think there is an opportunity here to reconceptualize what’s important in learning. I know something that we’ve done is identify how our people to become so much more independent in learning, you know, that that gives us a real opportunity to build on that when they’re back in school. Now, the other thing we noticed is it people’s aid and sorry, the teachers needed time to develop their understanding, become confident, work with the pupils in terms of developing their understanding of e-learning and how they approach that. But what our study showed was that those teachers, they replied, what works well in the classroom and an e-learning context were more successful. And I think there is a bit of learning from this. And something I’ve been using across our group is let’s not reify the importance of technology here. Technology is a tool. It’s no different to a textbook. It supports learning, learning, whether it’s e-learning or in the classroom follows what we understand about about learning. Those teachers who do well understand the concepts underpin that a more successful.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:23:22] But I do like this idea of an opportunity to reconceptualize what’s important and perhaps more people are recognizing pupil independance, pupil wellbeing, being really looking at personalizing, learning to a much greater degree. So I think that some of the things we found from this.
Justin Hardman [00:23:45] That’s great. That’s a lot, and John did you have something to add to that?.
John Stewart [00:23:48] Yeah. Really? But back in the technology piece, it was everything. In February and March, because we were rapidly finding our feet. Taking ourselves out of our normal into what was emerging as a new normal, around tech and tech use, and that was just so rapid and it became about the tech. But what was really interesting is once we got over the initial stability. How do we figure this stuff out day to day? It quickly became about, right, this is a tool. But how do we how do we know get back to what what’s working well for learners and learning what’s what’s what’s the glue? What’s what’s working well. And it became a toolset that was really, really interesting. The bit about what next. And so the very, very short term, [00:24:40]one of our big bits of work at the moment is resisting an organizational return to the old way of being given. It’s been such a difficult period emotionally and physically and social distancing and everything else. And that for us is as one of our sort of mainstays, is to have the conversations about how do we anchor this into being our new normal, celebrate, embrace, move forward and develop. [25.4s] That’s just an ongoing conversation that has to be ongoing because I agree with Jessica. There is such an opportunity here to just fundamentally change what we do and how we do it with and for the students that we have. So it’s it’s fantastic. To put a positive spin on the Covid-19 crisis.
Justin Hardman [00:25:27] That’s great. I’ve seen a lot of questions come in – we’re not at the Q&A part just yet. Around really some concrete and practical things that you’re doing in your schools to. In terms of getting back. And maybe it may be helpful for the schools that have come back. And you can start again with your John. That wasn’t very concrete things. You can share that that you’re doing to ensure safety and also ensure the learning.
John Stewart [00:25:55] First port of call is what are your local regulations? Go through them fine tooth comb. Come up with a matrix that says you’ve got to this, this , this. Look at things like health declarations from families around every student. We devise that as a proforma and then we put it on line. We’ve got an online system. It became a Google form that was populated and then each parent finished it, sent it in. So we knew that every student who came in to campus or came up to campus was was was able to be there. And things like quarantine, travel, temp checks in the morning, stuff like that, temperature checks a home became a requirement here. So it’s about getting a sheet in the diary, making sure that can be done and captured, making sure you’re broadcasting that to your community. Busses, disinfecting your busses after every shift, you know, going into the sandy mist machines. Interestingly, in Hong Kong, we’ve got social distancing and the classroom of a meter at least. But they can set close together on the busses, which was an interesting position, however, as well as once the kids are rocking up to school. It’s having your temperature check in stations. Right. If you’ve got a school with two thousand students and you’ve only got two tables with thermometers that are infrared, that’s going to take you a long time to get them through. Some of our schools went with infrared cameras, which is a lot more a lot quicker like you’ve seen in the airports. We don’t have to do temperature check recording. We just identify if anybody’s elevated. Put them to the side. Isolate them. Deal with them later. Normally, they get sent home by having a nurse on hand, making sure you’re not as around and knows what to do. Making sure the sanitizing gel stations all over the place. Making sure you’ve got masks for us. We said that students bring their own masks in Hong Kong. The government issued masks to every student. So we took a position of just having some spares just in case. In school, we developed one way system so we can maintain social distance in our campus. Up and upstairs and downstairs. That and then I guess one of the biggest things for us was we did a phased approach to return. So we only brought in a very small number of students on day one, test all of those systems and make sure that it works. Then we bring in two days later because we run a two day cycle. Two days later, we bring in a couple more year groups. So. So by the end of week one, we had our first day of, albeit, 50 percent students. But that was our maximum number coming in. So by that time with we’d learned some stuff. So I would say for anyone who’s thinking about opening schools again, give yourself some runway to test out your systems. Make sure you’ve got plenty of supplies. Make sure everybody’s briefed. You have your staff. Be friends and make sure that they know what your protocols are and comms to parents, you know, making sure that they know what to expect. Some of our schools, in fact, know all of our schools did return to school videos for students. So the principal based principals, members of staff actually admit enacted coming into school and what it would look and feel like. And that was huge. It just burst the bubble of stress for students who hadn’t been in schools like some of our students, haven’t been out of their apartments for months. And none of the students really had been in school for the best part of four, four and a half months. So for some of them, it would have been quite a struggle. But we got there and it was successful. Sunil do you have anything to add to that?
Sunil Talwar [00:29:19] In fact, almost like a carbon copy approach. As John mentioned, during the closure time, we took the opportunity off putting like close to 300 hand gel dispensers outside almost every door and actually invested and got a dozen rolled up infrared scanners or a thermal scanners briefing the team. Yes. And comms and I think that’s what I wanted the comms to the parent is the communication, the parents almost every week. What’s happening along with whether we opening or not, was not got to do with the government over here in Hong Kong. And the government had advance notice. We will give the schools at least three weeks notice so we can you can prepare accordingly. And then what do we do with the comms? And I’ll give kudos to the leadership team. They said , OK here is the communication as of today, there was an update on five days from now by this time, and they and they stuck to their guns. So there was nothing left to guess work. And that really helped to ease the parents. And of course, students. Now, mind you, we also run a Hangzhou campus. And we were very fortunate that just before the Covid situation hit in Hong Kong our Hangzhou students were on Chinese New Year break in Hong Kong. So we were also dealing with that. So, of course, they never went back. So these kids have finishing off the year. Tomorrow is our last day of school. And so that the whole emotional side over there to deal with. And lastly, as you said, a celebration piece of coming back to campus. It was always a phased approach. It was like a fair, like you know, all the faculty waiting for the kids with bubble machines and music and, you know: welcome back. And that created a huge, huge smile, a positive impact on the students. And we stuck our guns. No parents on campus. And even for the little ones, year one. Only recently we were able to even complete our graduation, which has been done in small batches. We allowed parents to come on, but we couldn’t do the entire cohort, didn’t like in three or four sessions normally, and much more mini version than what it would normally do. The closure piece is important as you bring it back to you, preparing the kids to come back on campus. How you close it also.
Justin Hardman [00:32:02] That’s great. Ahmed, what about your schools in China? Do you have any practical, concrete ideas that you can share with the audience around return to school?
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:32:14] Iin China, obviously, the process was very similar to what’s being described for Hong Kong. Regulations were robust, clearly communicated. We were able to follow those. The key things that have been have been mentioned were key to us. One was very clear communication was imperative. We’ve talked about parents. We talked about pupils, but also with staff as well, because like your school’s Chinese New Year was when but when the closure was implemented, we had staff around the world. They needed very clear communications on how and when to come back to China to manage that. Parents needed that communication. We started very much with facilities making sure facilities are ready. There was a series of inspections to ensure we met those. I would recommend every school looks at that first to make sure the facilities are ready to welcome people back into schools. That included some of the things that are being described around handgels through to managing, distancing through perspex screens in the dining hall. And that’s what we did. We made sure the medical, the operations, the the the services were ready from busses through to nurses. And then it was a lot of work on building confidence locally, making sure those teachers who had been working what was a grueling, grueling treadmill of e-learning to then come back into school with huge expectations in terms of their monitoring, their duties around ensuring social distancing, how children ate lunch, where it occurred, but building confidence within the community that we were fine. Things were going to be fine. The advantage we had is that there was very measured return, starting with our oldest pupils and working our way down our schools. Our schools in Hangzhou have been back over a month now. Likewise, our schools in Tianjin and Shanghai have recently just come back and forth now in the classrooms. It’s been interesting. There was reservation and people were quite conservative. Initially, tables were laid out as required, which was the big gaps between them. But [00:34:45]learning didn’t stop. And once again, those teachers that stuck with, you know, what we understand about learning, made it personalized, made it collaborative, made it engaging. Know, we found that there was greater use of technology for collaboration as opposed to physically being together [17.1s] and getting up and moving around, you know. But we still allowed, where possible, learning to occur as we would want it. There was movement around school, you know, that the the arts performance still happened. PE was a challenge in terms of it had to we had to make quite big changes to the curriculum in terms of how PE happens. But that’s been done and the curriculum has been moved around a little to ensure that the less team games, much more personal focus on personal physical development. But I think one of the things the teams did very well here was focus on communication and building a sense of confidence.
Justin Hardman [00:35:51] That’s great. Thanks a lot Ahmed. I want to pivot to Ambrose, you’re connected with many schools around the region, around the world. Have you observed or seen any innovations and hardware?
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:36:05] So, if you talk about the near, I mean, what we call at Steelcase call this wave the “reconfigure” , stage meaning like we are still in the middle of listening to our customers now. And there is only a few weeks of school left to go the next. By the end of June. So we need to think about the new school year in September or even next February in Australia when they are going to start the first semester. At Steelcase, again, we call this the reconfiguring stage. We believe educational institutions may be ready to bring back most of their teachers and students and activities as well. By September, this will involve new ways to lay out space and change settings to offer longer term solutions for better [00:37:01]safety. So solutions should be highly adaptable. So space can change quickly in response to unplanned future disruptions. [10.1s] So for example: designed for disinfecting materiality are key things antibacterial finishes overtops easy to clean surfaces, flexible furniture and power. Easy for the user to move the furniture, of course, to a little distance when needed. Mobile power, to allow choice and control over physical distancing. Again, you are talking about blended learning. Blended learning needing, of course, more screens – digital screens around the classroom. Again, those are the materials you’re going to buy on those technology need as well to respond to those regulations. And last but not least, the outstanding connection with flexible standalone screens. We can move around the space, so we stools as well so people can naturally distance themselves. So how about for the prototyping, the solution on-site? That’s what we are doing. actually, with Hong Kong International School. The teachers need together during summer time to prepare the new school year. But again, they need to respect the rules and regulations. So we are currently prototyping a space where teacher can connect, collaborate, prepares a new school year. And they can give us feedback because, again, we don’t know everything. We don’t pretend that we have the solution. Some even from the near. But now, thanks to the new, we are working to the far.
Justin Hardman [00:38:54] So thats great. And that’s a great pivot to the last section of the webinar before we get into the questions of which you had quite a few. And in this section, I want to have our panelists really try and predict the future. Now, of course, after everything that’s happened so far in 2020, it’s harder than usual to make long term predictions, perhaps. But with that being said, we do need to plan ahead. And in learning spaces where we’re usually looking at quite a few years in terms of what we’re thinking about. So what to think about the future. First, go to Jessica and then Ahmed and get your take on whether or not you think these current changed arrangements are going to cause a permanent shift in the way we learn and what the impact of that will be on learning spaces design. Maybe Jessica first.
Jessica Hale [00:39:45] Sure. So I hope so and I hope not! Again, I think the panelists have done a great job of talking about we fundamentally, need to look at what what worked and what really enhanced student learning through this process and keep those things. And then some of them do away with. So so what I do hope is, again, a change in instructional strategies. I really love the idea of the mobile screens. And that’s been a huge I think some of our learning spaces already set up like that. But it’s going to be a make a smooth transition into going back to school. I think one of the things that I hope goes away is so much of the social distancing. I see the need for it now. But but I also see the need for our kids, especially our early years, to be close and play tag in and those kinds of things. So [00:40:38]I do think we’ve learned a lot. Ultimately, I think this has been a great process for us as educators to really take a deep, deep look into what we value and to change our practice. [9.1s] And I and but at the end of the day, I do think I do hope that we change for what fundamentally we believe enhances our student learning.
Justin Hardman [00:41:03] Ahmed, in terms of your thoughts on whether this will be a permanent shift in learning.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:41:07] Yeah, I take the point from Jessica whereby I think some things won’t change. Learning theory is learning theroy. You know, it’s founded on a solid research base. We know it works. We’ve seen innovations around how we use the learning environment, where teachers have been more creative in their use of the classroom space. The chairs where we put bookshelves, the amount of space young learners have to read and find their own social exclusion within the classroom. So I think we will perhaps have people more confident and aware of using their learning environment better. [00:41:52]We’ve seen much greater literacy in using technology. My view in terms of moving forward is that currently technology operates in the periphery of learning. It’s a support. It’s a contributor to the learning experience. Perhaps what will happen from this is we will begin to look at what’s important around technology. And I think in the future, both where we’ll begin to look with technology, is drawing on the power of technology to process and it makes sense of evidence, information, data, so that it can become much more central to learning. [48.8s] You know, we are part of a research project looking at A.I. and how it can be used to make judgments around people, engage in pupil involvement and well-being in a classroom, real time data to teachers around a child’s well-being, their relative level of engagement is going to centralize technology. [00:43:07]Perhaps where we might get to is a repositioning of what’s important in learning with a focus on child development, independence, while being away from traditional focus on measured outcomes in the sense of exams. [13.4s] Hopefully this might get a bit of traction and that’s where we might move. [00:43:26]Ultimately, though, learning is social. It happens in schools and it happens between groups of children who interact and collaborate. You know, schools will still be the learning will still be social. [12.9s] Schools will still have a role. Still look at children. Their personal, social, emotional development, as well as learning. So I think whilst there will be some change, I hope it’s more in in in conceptualizing what’s important. Some of what happens will be marginal changes, I believe.
Justin Hardman [00:44:06] That’s great. That’s an, optimistic note to strike for the future. John and Sunil, you’re obviously both responsible for, you know, the building projects and your organizations and in operations. And I’m curious about how you’re building a capacity at both of your organizations to respond to new challenges in the future. How has this changed your planning in the medium to long term, maybe starting with Sunil first.
Sunil Talwar [00:44:37] Well, I think under capacity, wise flexibility is the biggest key over here. And just to add on to what Ambrose said about the furniture side is a good example to put it, because we got to be very, very malleable on the way here. So how our classrooms are laid out. And it’s not only because of the Covid situation, I think is the way the curriculum has evolved, arguably. And using the Dr. Ahmed Technology piece away for a minute, it’s like the way students learn today. Yes, it’s social. But they learn social with the new tools. Using technology. And a lot of them itself learners in many, many ways because the access to information was available to these digital natives. Millennials is very different compared to what you talked about a decade or two ago. So that sort of flexibility piece and not locking in or buying into I would say technology or infrastructure for more than five years. Because that’s very, very don’t have investment has to be taught to read. And you say you don’t invest and not in the physical assets. I don’t know. The learning side of being what the child gets out of it. So I think building buildings so that you’re ready to be flexible and delivering the quality of service which is needed for the self-learning and the teaching for the kids. I think that’s very critical. And without it, we don’t need to get into. OK. You know, one Internet line was another. At this point, there’s no right. And let’s use the example, like [00:46:25]when we had to go down online learning, there’s a large debate about which was a right to Microsoft to and Zoom, etc. There is no right to the right tool is what works for your community. [10.1s] OK. And that’s it. So once you get away those debates and have the flexible, open minded kindness, you will see as adopted. It’s just a tool. It’s a delivery mechanism. So that’s my thoughts.
Justin Hardman [00:46:52] It’s awesome Sunil, now John.
John Stewart [00:46:56] Follow that, thanks Sunil! Look, it’s exactly that. And I’ve got a couple of thoughts I’ll share in a second. But see that point about stripping away and finding out what’s really important and what really matters. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Microsoft. Mac, teams, Google, blah, blah, blah. Is it effective and does it make a difference? And that’s the bit. That’s the power that we can harness from this experience is the ability to strip away. What what what does it really matter? Or what doesn’t work so well. And there’s no permission to say, you know what, that doesn’t really work very well. Let’s do it this way or let’s try this way. A lot for me is one of the exciting things moving forward. We’re we’re talking about or we’re throwing around; and again the thinking here is so evolving. It’s so right now. I’m one of the things we’re looking at is trying to have we’re we’re really interested in what I call low stakes R&D it is being able to play in the sandbox. The right people playing in the sandbox at the right time, coming up with ideas that may work, may not work, but it’s so low stakes that it almost doesn’t matter. You can kind of play around and see how it goes and we’ll find the gold there. So we’re interested in looking at trying to get some very small development studio type, workshop type, not maker spaces at all. These are learning spaces, but ones that can be retrofitted, changed, adjusted, hyper agile, whatever it might be, test out newsits. Materials, wherever we want to do, whatever teachers might want to try, whatever students might want to tell us they want. That’s where we think the gold sits. Furniture is superimportant to Ambroise’s point. You know, we need to we need to be really, really looking at how that works, what it looks and feels like, et cetera. And then the tech piece, something that Ahmed said really resonates with me. And that is the social aspect. No tech is great. And a good friend of mine, Chris Burke from CTI Asia, has come up with “using technology, but staying human”. And we have to have, to have, have to to walk that line and again, find the gold that’s there. But it’s really evolving. So I’m kind of talking, you know, and fairly ambiguous terms. We’ve got lots of good ideas. None of it’s concrete. But I think that’s part of the way forward is don’t hold ourselves down by making it concrete, right? No, don’t don’t make it. Hey, this is our idea. We’re going to do it for ten years. Whoa, hang on. Ten years is a lifetime. Now, you know, six, six months is is a kind of window for planning around space use and tinkering and everything else, if not three. That’s the exciting bit. But, you know, [00:49:45]we have an opportunity to get down to the real gold of what makes a difference in classrooms for teachers to enhance the learning for students. [7.5s] That’s going to be great.
Justin Hardman [00:49:56] Sunil quickly,.
Sunil Talwar [00:49:56] I mean, just around Johns idea is you have your spaces and then have the bare, basic core necessities: power, electricity, climate control and some kind of network, you know, Internet or whatever. From there on, you can make that space moudable to anything you want. Year by year. I call it the Ikea demo rooms. You know, you walk into the IKEA demo rooms, they change them every month. With the, and that’s where this needs to go. And he’s absolutly right, we are in this hot space right now. And this is the time to properly build further from the that.
Justin Hardman [00:50:41] That’s great Sunil. Ambroise, what have you seen? What is Steelcase; Steelcase has a lot of research, and in an ongoing way you’re connected with customers. What do you see for the learning environments in schools in the near future?
Ambroise D’Hauteville [00:50:55] First, I would like to just repeat, like some of key words I just heard from. I mean, from the Ahmed – like: positioning. I heard about revolution from Jessica at the beginning of the panel. Agile – but we still need to make the learning space social right Sunil. And we need to stay human. They are quite right? We talk about, a lot of change that we still need to be human. So at Steelcase we call these waves to jump on this revolution, the re-invent wave. So, again: “the far” learning environment in the future will require reinvention as the emerging technologies offer new solutions. So going forward, school will need to be more flexible. Yes, and able to adapt very quickly. [00:51:52]Covid19 was the catalyst for great change and transformation. But these innovations may well serve to carry education to other challenges that may have shut down learning in the past, [14.7s] such as earthquakes in New Zealand or Japan or China. Bushfire in Australia. Typhoon or protests in Hong Kong. Monsoons in Philippines or India. Wow. So now we’re going to be much more prepared to face those challenges. In addition, [00:52:30]reinvented learning space spaces must be designed with a deeper commitment to the well-being of the students and faculty. So we talk about physical well-being that we talk as well about cognitive well-being. And the most important is the emotional well-being. [17.8s] So you were talking about stress. How do we how to relieve stress and always to have the same focus of safety and learning at the same time? It’s a challenge that we need to, I guess to fix or to work on. So our Steelcase research on wellbeing demonstrates the different component and the impact on learning. That is a very deep research and well-being. I invite you to check on our website. That is great. A deepdive on emotional and physical community.
Justin Hardman [00:53:23] That’s great. Thank you Ambroise, we can say all those links after the session. We have a few minutes left. So I want to get into some questions from the attendees as well as a lot of them. So we’ll get to all of them. And I’ll try and bounce around from some sort of picture ones, to some quite specific questions that are interesting as well. One here from Australia. It’s sort of a long one, so I’ll paraphrase. But essentially what she’s asking is, do you think that because schools in Asia compare with perhaps in schools around the world have had a more protracted period of closure? Do you think that that protracted period of closure allowed for potentially more time for experimentation and learning to get pipe past some resistance faces and sense of change management with what teachers and staff and students? Is that something that you… If in other words, the schools have been going back and say in mid-March, what things have looked? Well, things have looked differently in terms of your view to the future. John.
John Stewart [00:54:27] I think the easy answer to that from certainly from my perspective is, is yes, it has helped because we didn’t have a choice. And if we had if we had been told middle of March, six weeks later, hey, classes are resuming again, even if it was the model we’re working right now. I don’t know that we would have had enough time to get a bed in, not just the use, but that the mindset change. That has been one of the benefits of what we’ve been through, a willingness to keep going. That was [00:55:01]one of the one of the amazing takeaways that I’ve had as a professional in the education business now for 15 years as holy smokes, we’ve proven to ourselves that we can make rapid, fundamental change in what we do and how we do it overnight like that. [15.2s] We wouldn’t have done it. I don’t think if there had only been four, four or six weeks, because we would have been looking at the end and say, OK, we’ve only got to do a little bit longer. Folks are never going gonna be there. And that’s going to be back to normal because it’s a safety around that we got pushed out of our comfort zone. And it was what has, I think led this opportunity around some fundamental conversations. That’s my take on.
Justin Hardman [00:55:40] Great thanks.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [00:55:44] Sorry Justin I don’t have a hand. I’m just going to jump in. I agree 100% with John actually. We found that initially it was about just being operational and functional, making sure infrastructure was right, making sure people had access and understood the that the that the platforms that we were using, the innovation happened some weeks later. When teachers become more confident, parents understood what was important. Now those pupils became more comfortable with learning at home. That we began to see real developments. So I think it probably is we probably were able to benefit because of that sustained period. The first couple of weeks were not ideal. While the teachers were learning, you know, we were you know, we were sharing work with pupils as we began to get face to face learning real time learning in a collaborative project based approaches, remotely open working. You know what? We were able to benefit from that. Also, I think the pupils were able to benefit because whilst I wouldn’t purport that learning happened at the rate it would have done in school, pupils developed in many other ways. And I think those shouldn’t be dismissed as being important.
Justin Hardman [00:57:17] Yeah, I totally agree with all of that. There’s a question here around especially a few questions around specifically how schools are handling social distancing with the younger learners. So for the early primary and kindergarten kids, I don’t have any panelists, have any, magic bullets for that one. So they have little kids stop touching each other and everything. We know the little kids what to do.
Sunil Talwar [00:57:46] I look, it’s very hard to tell little kids not to do something. OK? And they are going to carry on because you can’t keep an eye on them all the time. But one of the things the policies we have put in place is, as I mentioned earlier, we have these hand gels outside every school, every classroom door, the mindset being that, OK, you’re cleaning your hands before you enter the door every time you enter the classroom. That along with 50 percent capacity, as John mentioned earlier. And we went with shorter school days has helped to reduce that. But we have to also be mindful that we can reduce all that until within our campus perimeters. Once they leave on campus, there’s not much that we can do, so might as well help them with the mindset of, OK, genunily, constantly clean your hands. Wash your hands. That’s more effective in many ways than telling them, don’t touch teacher.
Justin Hardman [00:58:50] Yeah, building in those procedures and then welcome. John, I know you have something to say, but we’re we really need to wrap up here soon. So I just want to go to one more question and then the final wrap up. Question around discipline. So how does discipline change in schools? Both, I guess, in terms of classroom discipline when you’re back and social distancing, but also online discipline as well. And I don’t know, Jessica, if you have any thoughts around that.
Dr. Jessica Hale [00:59:19] Sure, that’s been an adventure for sure. I’ve actually found the students that struggled on campus would tend to be the students that would even that would struggle online. So that shouldn’t be surprising and it isn’t surprising. But I think around it, it led to more meaningful and deep conversation. So if we’re really looking at discipline as a source of change behavior and reflecting on practice and things like that, it definitely this format that online, the remote learning format led to those deeper conversations around that I can first see when we go back to school. Again, it would be implementing a social distancing in a detention hall or something like that. But but just looking at as an opportunity to maybe rethink and change the way, go back to the purpose and the reason why we’re implementing a disciplinary measures, just like we’re thinking about how we’re rethinking why we’re doing education.
Justin Hardman [01:00:18] Now, that’s a great comment. Thank you so much for that, Jessica. So we are at a time no, we can keep talking forever about this is a great conversation. So I’m very thankful for all the panelists for giving up some of their time. It’s a busy time of the school year and a very unusual year. So we appreciate that. And thanks to everyone was joined us. Just one quick exit exit question for each of you, maybe starting with Ahmed, the order of the panelists with what are you hopeful in all of this? Just 30 seconds on the.
Dr. Ahmed Hussain [01:00:52] What I know is we are much more confident in responding flexibly, responding to the need to change. I know [01:01:00]we’ve been able to look at how we use those learning spaces and how we maximize the space we have and we’ve also seen huge developments in children’s independence as learners. And I hope that’s something that we as an organization take on and develop. [21.9s]
Justin Hardman [01:01:28] Sunil.
Sunil Talwar [01:01:29] I think this push change or this first change because of and especially, Hong Kong is been dealing with this for the last one year, six months of protest, followed by six months of Covid. It’s really, really created a larger appreciation of humans being kind to each other in this fast, busy society we live in. And knowing that confidence within all of stakeholders that well manage change can only be positive?
Justin Hardman [01:02:03] That’s great. Thanks. John.
John Stewart [01:02:09] I know we’re short on time. Oh, look, hopeful on. This continues, this conversation becomes action that the the closeness that I certainly feel just feels. I mean, I know that sounds counterintuitive, but [01:02:25]it feels like people are more open. People are more embracing change than we’re willing to talk about change. And that, again, is the gold that we have to mine and dig to be able to make this last. Otherwise, that risk of it falling back is very top of mind for me. [15.2s] So it’s hoping that the traction continues, that we continue to work even closer together. And it’s all about the students because that’s what’s up there. The horror better than.
Justin Hardman [01:02:53] Amborise
Ambroise D’Hauteville [01:02:58] Since the beginning of the 21st century, we’ll talk about change. Transformation, change, transformation. I strongly believe that could be forced change without choice. So we know that serves a future education very, very well. More innovation and faster improvements. Thank you very much.
Justin Hardman [01:03:17] Thank you all. And I’m sorry. I realize now because I don’t see all the videos. Jessica sorry, Jessica, I left off.
Dr. Jessica Hale [01:03:28] We’re way overtime now! But awesome conversation. [01:03:31]I’m hopeful that we embrace the change and that we’re very intentional about what we keep and we’re very intentional about what we do away with. [6.0s] So I’ll keep it brief.
Justin Hardman [01:03:38] Thank you, Jessica. All right. Well, thank you, everyone, today. We’ll be posting this online shortly.
Sunil Talwar [01:03:44] Thank you, everybody.
John Stewart [01:03:47] Thanks Justin