College Planning & Management

OCT 2012

College Planning & Management is the information resource for professionals serving the college and university market. Covering facilities, security, technology and business.

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F&E 2 012 Furniture & Equipment LEARNING SPACES Beyond Furniture in the Active Learning Classroom. By Ellen Kollie the Lecture studies show a link between student engagement and improved learn- ing outcomes in the classroom. That, along with easy access to information via technology, is fueling a shift in educa- tion from a teacher-as-lecturer model to a teacher-as-guide model. "Now students can get information in the blink of an eye," says Sean Corcorran, general manager of Steelcase Education Solutions, which offers workplace products, furnishing, and services worldwide. "The teacher doesn't have to stand up and lecture the entire class period, which leads to a more multi- modal, active learning environment in the classroom." UC Berkeley's Educational Technology Services (ETS) website describes Active learning classrooms (ALC) as "teaching and learning spaces that allow faculty to move their course design beyond the lecture. The room design, fl exible furniture, writing surfaces, and technol- ogy support professors in engaging with their students through the integrated use of media and collaborative learning activities." According to the ETS website, active learning classrooms help to facilitate diverse sizes and groupings of students by creating a fl exible and sup- portive environment for a class to transi- tion seamlessly between a professor's lecture and facilitated student group work. In other words, active learning spaces support the various ways in which instruc- tors teach and students learn. For example, Corcorran notes, the 64 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / OCTOBER 2012 teacher may introduce a subject, the stu- dents may then break into small groups for 20 minutes of research, and then they may gather again as a whole with each group making a brief presentation that allows time for class discussion. Because of this change to active learning, "educators and designers of learning spaces are rethinking class- rooms, libraries, hallways, common areas, and other in-between spaces," notes the Steelcase website (www.steel- case.com). "Learning spaces must now incorporate user-friendly technology, fl exible furniture, and other new tools that support active learning. Today, every space on campus is a learning space." Furniture, specifi cally, is becoming more fl exible. Cubes can be used for sit- ting, standing upon for dramatic presen- tation, or even kneeling next to for taking notes, drawing or otherwise assisting in fl oor work. Small tables on wheels can be used for individual work or brought together for group work. So, the next time you shop for classroom furniture, be prepared to see fewer tablet armchairs and more fl exible options. Bonus: you may fi nd yourself ordering less furniture! WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM PHOTO COURTESY OF STEELCASE, INC.

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