Creating an A+ educational environment—spanning not just textbooks and teachers, but also furniture and design—remains a priority for school administrators and facility managers throughout the year. Business Interiors by Staples has compiled six cost-effective trends and tips to help schools create an environment that inspires learning.
Top furniture and design considerations for the 2011-2012 school year include:
The Tech Effect. Interactive whiteboards, laptops, and tablets, among other technologies, can create a more engaging learning experience. However, inflexible furniture and overcrowding can stymie their adoption and impact. With mobile furniture—arranged to support open, intuitive traffic patterns—schools can make the most of interactive whiteboard investments and ensure accessibility. Furniture and accessories that enable students to power up their devices also make sure laptops and tablets are put to good use.
A Bright Idea: Dim the Lights. As technology becomes more prevalent, lighting schemes in classrooms are evolving. By dimming lights and applying shades and blinds, schools can eliminate glare on computer screens, ensure visibility of interactive whiteboards, and reduce eye strain among both students and faculty.
Focus on Floors. Floor maintenance continues to be a priority, as heavy traffic leaves its mark. By using stacking, nesting, and mobile furniture, schools can reduce labor time and costs when clearing and cleaning the area. It’s also important that casters and glides on furniture and equipment are appropriate for the flooring surface installed. Hard glides are most effective on soft surfaces like carpet. In addition, Marmoleum, vinyl, and vinyl composition tile (VCT) flooring is best preserved with hard felt or specially designed dual composition glides. When wear and tear becomes visible, the use of aftermarket, retrofit glides—which snap on and push away debris—can help schools protect their cleaned and resurfaced floors and save on future labor costs.
Flexible Furniture. Flexibility is key for the increasingly popular multipurpose classroom. Consequently, schools are incorporating mobile and lightweight furniture—pieces which can be rearranged quickly and cater to different learning styles. Demountable walls also contribute to a flexible and dynamic environment.
Classrooms Outside of Classrooms. Many of today’s schools are looking to facilitate informal learning and extend collaboration beyond the confines of traditional classroom walls. As such, they can use furniture to create “casual tasking areas” across the building, where students and faculty can kick back, interact, and collaborate.
A Green Guide. Improving indoor air quality remains a top priority as schools strive to create a healthy environment and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles gain traction. As such, it’s important to select furniture that doesn’t pollute the air by off-gassing formaldehyde or other irritants. By choosing products with GREENGUARD and Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) Indoor Advantage™ certifications, schools can create healthy interiors for all occupants.