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Bridging the divide between the physical and digital student environment – A hybrid solution.

29th May 2020

Phygital is a term used to describe the interaction between a physical and digital space. As the world-wide education sector navigates its way out of the COVID pandemic we find ourselves looking more and more towards a phygital experience.  Having only been able to rely on a digital presence for a significant number of weeks we have appreciated more the benefits of what a physical presence has. But there will be a period of time where we will need both and this offering doesn’t have to be a choice – Offer both, deliver phygital.

The student phygital experience is the blending of the traditional on-campus physical experience and the digital, online technology-driven environment.  Using digital technologies to create new and improved student experiences isn’t new for leaders in the academic arena.

Building successful phygital environments open new avenues for creators to explore when first designing an object or space. Successful phygital environments boast a smooth interface and ensure all elements within allow users to interact with both the physical and digital worlds in ways they have never been able to before.  This is essential in ever-changing conditions a pandemic can bring and is also of significant benefit to not just new students who aren’t as familiar with your campus but existing students who need to follow new rules.

When exploring the use of phygital elements within the educational sector there are both good examples of use and areas that can be greatly improved upon.  Having the ability to access a digital space through the use of a phone, tablet or desktop computer allows students and staff to efficiently work from any location. Pushing this further takes the positive aspects of the physical experiences and integrates them with the useful opportunities offered by technology (i.e. the ability to communicate information quickly based on recorded user data). Analytical software is a great enabler to harvesting all student interactions and allowing tailored communications and improvements to that individual’s environment remotely and automatically.

Well-developed examples of Phygital Objects occur in the gaming world.  Most people would be familiar with Guitar Hero where the gamer has a ‘phygital’ guitar that exists both in physical and digital realms. Similarly, the Wii controllers allow families to ‘play tennis’ where they hold a ‘racquet’ in their hand.

In an article by Inc. they say that good technology collects and stores data, but great technology can take that data and translate it into usable information to improve our lives.

Mobile and wearable technology such as smartwatches and tablets can measure and deliver data about our health that can then be used to inform decisions surrounding exercise, diet and sleep habits. These devices can also be used to inform your campus community of room changes, room closures or changes in one way walking systems.

Linz, Mueller-Stevens, and Zimmerman argue that ‘phygital’ is what Apple has been offering since 2015: in-house developers can use the Swift programming language to connect external hardware like a medical device to a platform in order to take measurements with the HealthKit iPhone app, which creates physical stickiness.

If these customers want to keep consistent health records, they have little other choices than to stick with the Apple world of devices and software (Liz et al., 2017). Developing a student-centred mindset whilst creating a phygital environment can enable the needs of every single individual being met.

Shifting to a more personalised learning paradigm leads to more actively engaged students, and allows for each student’s individual talents to develop. It’s not just about accessing services, it’s about dynamically changing the way students learn, and how staff build working relationships with their students, to achieve the best results.

myday enables institutions to deliver the physical campus to learners via their own devices whenever and wherever they are.

Would you like to hear more about myday’s hybrid solution?

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