Node chair adapts to ‘active learning’

Steelcase Design Studio has designed an innovative classroom chair that provides quick and seamless transitions from one teaching mode to the next.

The nature of education is changing. Both educators and designers of learning spaces are rethinking the classroom, looking for comprehensive spaces that incorporate user friendly technology, flexibility and tools that support active learning.

Research carried out by Steelcase Solutions shows that students today expect a more active learning environment that supports co-learning and group discussion but despite this, the classroom has remained largely unchanged for decades. Static settings, clunky desks and uncomfortable chairs no longer cut it for students today.

To help address this disconnect, Steelcase Design Studio has designed an innovative classroom chair that provides quick and seamless transitions from one teaching mode to the next. The node chair provides key features like its swivel seat to maintain open sightlines, castors for mobility and quick mode change, backpack storage and a large adjustable work surface that supports laptops, textbooks and notebooks.

Kim Williams, Product Marketing Manager at Steelcase Solutions, details some of the problems facing classrooms today. She said: ‘Many traditional classrooms actually inhibit current teaching methods by creating physical and social barriers between students and teachers. They have been designed for one-way learning with tight rows of desks and chairs that inhibit movement and interaction, keeping teachers confined to the front of the room where there are few opportunities to connect with students.

‘Students are confined to chairs that are secured to the floor or are difficult to move, forcing them to struggle to adjust to see the teacher, fellow students or content displays ‘

Research shows a variety of teaching modes occur in today’s classrooms, ranging from group discussions and team collaboration to traditional lectures. All of these modes contribute towards more effective learning and instruction.

Kim continues, ‘the node chair caters for the modern teaching style. It’s mobile and flexible, designed for quick, easy transitions between one teaching method and the next. With node, a classroom can flex from a lecture-based mode to a team-based mode and back again, without interruption.

‘Transformations in students and education make the traditional classroom style obsolete, but the node brings it into the 21st century quickly, effectively and economically, without renovation or reconstruction. The purpose of the node chair from the beginning was to support active learning and modern teaching methods within the traditional classroom; it’s a front-row seat to education’s next big drive forward.’

As many Universities have raised their tuition fees, they are now looking for ways to set themselves apart from their competitors. Updating learning spaces has a big impact on the teaching potential in their existing spaces, and can make a big difference to the student experience that is becoming so valued.

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Features of the node chair include:

  • Personal worksurface – adjustable, non-handed, and large enough to support digital and analog resources.
  • Swivel seat – keeps open sightlines between student and instructor, whiteboards, and other students.
  • Base – Keeps backpacks and personal belongings out of the aisle.
  • Castors – lend mobility for quick, easy transitions between classroom modes.
  • Open seat design – offers easy access while arms serve as backpack hooks.
  • Flexible seat – without pneumatic adjustments to worry about, keeps students comfortable in a variety of postures.
  • No upholstery – easy maintenance.

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