Spring 2020 Update: "Making Space" 

Educational Engineering & Mental Space

Faculty Research Presentation

  • Space and time are often taken for granted in online academic and professional platforms, where people tend to forget that they are interacting with other people, not just working with a system that is available 24/7. In reality, online interactions require more mental space (guess work, processing and creativity) than face-to-face interactions.

  • The popular conceptual error about online professional and academic interactions comes from the assumption  that young professionals, who do tend to spend a significant amount of time on social platforms, will easily pivot to a full day of online interactions for all aspects of their work and life. In fact, the necessary transition to a fully online social and professional day has been a source of stress even to the most savvy and charismatic students, professionals and community leaders.

  • The research initiative, Educational Engineering & Mental Space (compiled at Columbia University Teachers College and presented at various universities in the US and Europe (2018-2020)) stresses the importance of setting up markers (a reasonable schedule or routine, a dedicated workspace, etc.) to reduce common stress factors contributing to common teaching-learning outcomes in online courses and optimize processing time. NOTE: The link above is for the original 2018 presentation. A copy of the 2020 version will post once the video permissions are granted. 

  • Setting up a physical space that is well-lit, functional and distraction-free (with a few personal touches, of course) puts a person in the right mental state to be productive. At present, there is an additional consideration for setting a "staging area" for online interactions that looks professional yet still reflects your character can be challenging -- which means that you have to set the stage so it feels comfortable for YOU, but looks clean and professional to whomever you're addressing on the flip side of your computer screen or mobile device. 

  • Creating a space that is conducive to productive work is partially subjective and partially objective. That is, all productive workspaces do require a few common items (a comfortable chair, a clear space to work, file and prioritize daily/weekly/monthly tasks, etc.), however what makes a space work are personalized factors (the stamp or reflection of your character) that put a person at ease so they feel comfortable, confident and prepared to dedicate themselves to the discussion or project at hand.

  • Current segments of the research, based on a study conducted from 2010-2020 relate to psychological and technical aspects of online instruction, which include staging (setup) for more interactive educational platforms, hybrid instructional models, the efficacy of popular platforms used, and available supplementary resources allowing for equal access for individuals struggling with audio-visual impairments.

  • The upcoming 2020-2021 unit will explore newly-established platforms and new sustainable options to make online interface more user-friendly, interactive and productive (and, more importantly, less stressful to all those utilizing the platforms). Findings will be presented in April/May 2021.

  • In the interim, top professionals in the industries of spacial design, online platforms, etc. will be recommended to address common questions arising from the use of online tools during the pandemic. 

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