Steelcase and Texas A&M Team up to Develop Furniture that Supports Education
The Verb Active Media Table, to launch later this year, will integrate storage and technology to foster flexible learning environments.
If there is one point of consensus in contemporary education theory, educators agree that there is no one correct approach to teaching and learning. Instead, educational environments need to be modular, adaptable, and open to a constant shift between teaching modes. And while this open-ended methodology is a great test for educators, it is challenging for designers, who have to structure this experience without stifling the learning process.
For the engineering program at Texas A&M University, which is gearing up to increase enrollment by over a third, these concerns have become increasingly pressing. In an effort to transform the learning environment to include both traditional lectures and student-led learning, while making technology an integral part of the equation, the department teamed up with Steelcase Education to devise a classroom solution for all of these demands.
Together, the university and the Michigan-based manufacturer strove to develop a worktable that supports active learning. In addition to easy access to power outlets, the table offers retractable monitor lifts, which improve sight lines and increase engagement—the screens allow student collaboration on projects, then disappear when it’s time for lectures. “At its heart, this project is about reducing friction in technology use on campus,” says Mark Walters, category product manager at Steelcase Education.
Steelcase has since applied the insights gained from the project to new components of classroom furniture, including the Verb Active Media Table, set to launch later this year. The table, which houses monitor lifts, an integrated wire manager, and analog whiteboard storage, provides students with novel ways of engaging with both class content and one another.
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