Furniture for active learning, creating maker-centred learning spaces
The maker movement is drastically altering the environment and culture of our classrooms. By understanding this evolution, we can ensure learning spaces are best prepared to embrace this new active way of learning, ensuring teachers and students can make the most of their time together.
The maker culture features a connected and personal focus on active learning and doing, nurturing the skills required in the workforce of the future. Teachers are becoming mentors, and distributed teaching and learning is occurring throughout a fluid, interdisciplinary process.
A makerspace is by nature one that facilitates and encourages this dynamic learning method. The conventional idea of a classroom, linear and constrained, must be erased. By thinking outside the traditional 4 walls of the classroom, we can promote uninhibited exploration, support movement, interaction and collaboration – not just between teachers and students, but between the students themselves. Here are a few ideas and common themes observed across the maker movement:
Maker-centred learning involves prototyping, crafting and iterative processes. Design-based approaches to problem-solving require access to supplies and a safe place to store work-in-progress. Storage within the space should be mobile, vary in size, and provide easy on-demand access.
Students need a platform where they can do both individual and group work. A worksurface isn’t just for a notepad or laptop anymore, it must accommodate other learning tools that enhance and reinforce agency (the capacity to make choices and decisions).
Adaptive seating easily allows students and teachers to move throughout a space, giving them the freedom to reconfigure layouts. Additionally, movement not only facilitates new ways of learning, it is beneficial to human health. An active learning space discourages a sedentary culture, whilst improving concentration, retention, productivity and wellbeing for students and teachers.
Surfaces for expressing and sharing ideas – marker boards, magnetic or stickable walls allow students and teachers to generate and synthesise ideas as they work through the creative design thinking process.
KI’s Perry chair selected for the University of Edinburgh’s ongoing transformation
The University of Edinburgh is cementing its reputation as one of the world’s top higher education institutions, undertaking a transformative programme of works. Set for completion in 2030, this phased upgrade to its facilities has recently seen the opening of the Lister Learning & Teaching Centre. The refurbishment of this 5-storey, 1970 building at the heart of the campus was designed by renowned Scottish architects Reiach and Hall, and features traditional yet flexible classroom styles.
Designed to offer students a vibrant, flexible learning environment, each floor features fixed partitioned rooms that can be reconfigured quickly and easily. This flexibility was an important requirement for the university to ensure each room could be multipurpose and adapt to multiple lesson styles. Working with Azzurro, the university selected KI’s Perry chairs, specified in contrasting polypropylene and upholstery in shades of blues, reds, oranges, beiges, greys, greens and white, add a splash of bright colour and give the rooms a distinctive character.
The KI Perry chair is already in use across the university, selected for its unrivalled comfort. Its unique articulating backrest moves with the user’s own weight, optimising comfort for prolonged seated periods. Improved comfort has been shown to enhance learning outcomes, making this high density stacking chair the ideal choice for educational environments. Some rooms have been furnished with tables and chairs, whilst others offer even more flexibility with Perry’s unique oversized, removable tablet arm in both left- and right-handed versions.
Alison Mallett, National Sales Manager, KI Europe comments: “The illustrious history and alumni of the University of Edinburgh is breath-taking. To think that some of tomorrow’s Nobel laureates, Prime Ministers, doctors, scientists, authors and more, will have spent some of their academic lives sat in our Perry chairs is really humbling. We are very proud to be a part of the university’s transformation as it prepares for an exciting future.”
Swanbourne House chooses Postura+ range for new, tech-focused learning spaces
Founded in 1920, Swanbourne House has been working closely with Witley Jones Furniture over several years on a variety of refurbishment projects. Opening to students in summer 2017, the upgraded Fremantle and Walker buildings house innovative bespoke science laboratories, computing suites, an art studio, and a design & technology classroom and a range of humanities classrooms, each featuring seating from KI’s iconic Postura+ range.
An independent, co-educational prep school for 3-13 year olds, the school prides itself on providing outstanding facilities across its 55 acre estate in Buckinghamshire. During the planning phase of the recent project, school business manager Paul Jochimsen sought teacher input to ensure each new room was tailored to meet their needs. He also reviewed many other schools, and visited similar projects completed by Witley Jones for other schools, gaining insight into design and function for the innovative learning environment.
Paul Jochimsen, business manager, Swanbourne House, comments: “We are very proud of the new facilities which place us at the cutting edge of education. Postura+ chairs were the perfect addition for these spaces as we already had them elsewhere in the school and had received very positive feedback from staff and pupils. They are robust, brightly coloured, stackable, and mitigate against children tipping them over backwards. The teachers love them as they are easy to clean and the children find them very comfortable.”
In each of the new rooms, Postura+ was selected in Ink Blue to provide ergonomic, durable seating. One-piece polypropylene stacking chairs enhance student comfort and performance in theory spaces, while Postura+ task chairs provide easy swivel movement and height adjustability for computer lab spaces. Stackable, sled-based Postura+ stools with integral bag hooks provide the perfect solution for the design & technology rooms.
Matt Jones, director, Witley Jones, comments: “Working with Swanbourne House over the years has allowed us to provide furniture and fittings to help them create innovative learning spaces fit for the future. KI’s Postura+ range match our commitment to quality, durability and value for money. Being able to specify a variety of seating options in a consistent quality and aesthetic made them an obvious choice for this vibrant learning environment.”
For further information please visit www.kieurope.com