Today, educational facilities and classrooms are more tech savvy than ever. The famous “3 R’s” (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) – once the domain of books/paper and pencil – are increasingly incorporating technology tools.
Where chalk-stained hands were once ubiquitous, students’ and teachers’ hands are now typing away on laptops and tablets, and taking advantage of interactive whiteboard technologies.
As educational facilities leverage these new technologies to enrich the experience, they’re finding that furniture and design can help maximize their technology investments and prevent technology from being under-utilized. That is, without the optimal room/furniture set-up, schools are seeing that technology access, visibility and effectiveness can be stymied.
Here are five tips from Business Interiors by Staples on setting up educational facilities so furniture and design elements can complement and support technology investments:
Be a traffic cop. As schools incorporate technologies, such as interactive whiteboards, into lessons and curriculums, it’s important that students have unfettered visual access, and can approach the tools easily. Heavy, inflexible furniture; overcrowding and jumbled desk layouts can stifle technology adoption. Instead, by incorporating flexible, mobile and multi-purpose furniture, as well as intuitive layouts and open traffic patterns, schools can get maximum use from their technology investments.
Support powering up. The prevalence of mobile devices and wireless connectivity have changed furniture support requirements. Now, there’s less of a need for furniture to have spaces to accommodate a jumble of cables. More schools are taking advantage of furniture that simply has power outlets and other mechanisms or accessories that support the charging of devices.
Look at lighting. As technology plays a bigger role in the classroom, lighting requirements are changing as well. To eliminate glare on screens and prevent eye strain, schools should take care to dim bright lights when appropriate, and apply shades and blinds as necessary to increase visibility.
Incorporate mobile furniture. Classrooms today are often used for multiple purposes and accommodate multiple audiences. By incorporating lightweight, mobile and nesting furniture, educators have an easier time transitioning classrooms from one purpose to the next. Mobile furniture can also be easily arranged to provide optimal visibility to technology tools and help make the most of technology lessons.
Create collaborative areas. By providing informal learning areas and “touchdown stations” for spontaneous, outside-the-classroom learning interactions, educational facilities can help foster collaboration among students and staff, and support students’ use of technology such as tablets.