Furnishing the collaborative classroom means infusing flexibility into the traditional static classroom design. While the traditional lecture format with rows of students facing the front of the classroom in individual desks may never completely disappear from the list of options, it's increasingly only one of many possible learning configurations. In a collaborative design, there isn’t really a front of the classroom, per se, that serves as the sole focus for teaching and learning. Both functions are decentralized throughout the room and properly furnishing the collaborative classroom helps facilitate that process.
Here are some elements of a collaborative classroom:
- Collaborative classroom furniture is lightweight and can be quickly reconfigured to suit groups or individual study. Chairs are on casters and height-adjustable to accommodate furniture ranging from tables to workstations.
- Tables should have the flexibility to convert from standard individual units into modules that create a single, large U-shaped table facing a central moderator or lecturer.
- The instructor or classroom facilitator may occupy a mobile station that can be easily repositioned at various locations in the room. A portable audio-visual lectern with controls to activate a variety of classroom technology and a podium with ample space for written material and lecture notes are good candidates for this function.
- Student tables or desks can be converted from computer workstations to conventional study stations by utilizing technology like The Trolley E system that incorporates a flat-screen monitor inside the work surface. The monitor deploys on signal to normal viewing position, then retracts into the desk to convert the desktop back into a standard study or writing surface.
- Because teaching and learning often continue outside the immediate classroom, benches or other seating arrangements can be installed in the hallway or anteroom to facilitate ongoing discussions and collaboration.
Nova Solutions has designed furniture technology solutions for the educational environment since 1988. Contact us for more innovative answers to the challenges of furnishing the collaborative classroom.