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Steelcase: Design Solutions for Education
08/05/12 Sara McLean | specs+spaces Editor, Dunn-Edwards Corporation, Allied Member ASID, CMG
During NeoCon 2012, North America’s largest design exhibition, Steelcase Education Solutions provided a showcase of collaboration and engagement between student and teacher by introducing a first-of-its-kind table-based collection of classroom furnishings called Verb, and has enhanced its award-winning learning chair, Node. Dr. Lennie Scott-Webber, IIDA, Director of Education Environments at Steelcase, provided more insight into the launches by discussing the need for a more collaborative environment in schools today. “Children need an active learning environment today to be able to get the most out of school. The world has changed but the classroom has fallen behind the times.
This situation has helped inspire Steelcase to form the Education Solutions Group and study trending student behaviors.” Dr Scott-Webber and team found that a traditional classroom environment where there is a typical, rectangular classroom, with students sitting on one side while the teacher presents on the other, creates a culture of passive engagement by the students. On the other hand, the real world is trending toward a collaborative environment where people solve problems and generate new ideas together, driving up innovation.
Verb, the table-based collection of classroom furniture includes table-based learning spaces, each with its own whiteboard. These whiteboards assist in easy-access classroom collaborative settings that also provide students with note-taking surfaces during group projects. Positive aspects of these whiteboards include becoming instant displays for sharing with classmates as well as easy space-dividers during test time. Other furnishings in the Verb collection include instructor stations, which provide adjustable lecterns with storage; student tables, which are chevron-shaped to enhance sight-lines amongst the students and faculty; and board displays, which are easels that display whiteboards.
Node, the award-winning chair from Steelcase, now has even more features including an adjustable-height five-star base with worksurface, a new tablet stand on the worksurface and it comes in nine new signature colors to help schools express their brand. The new signature colors include crimson, purple, green, burgundy, blue, orange, brown, gold and red.
And what about color in classrooms? Steelcase has studied changes in education for years and color is one component that cannot be overlooked. Dr. Scott-Webber, when discussing the classroom environment with me stated that color is coming back into design, “Gone are the days of white walls and dreary setting; children need excitement and one way we added a punch of color into the class room setting is through our Node chair collection. It’s a small dose of color so it’s not overwhelming to the room, and kids are sitting in the chairs most of the time anyway.”
Many studies have been conducted through the years on the best uses of color in the classroom, including research by Dr. Scott-Webber. All concur that color is an important factor in the physical learning environment and impacts student achievement. And though these studies vary somewhat in how much the role of color should play in a class room environment, most recommend a variety of colors within a room to reduce eye strain, boredom and passivity.