A Movable Feast: Furniture on Wheels! Wireless Islands! Cutting-Edge K-12 Classroom Design Marries Digital Technologies with Thoughtful Architecture, Challenging Traditional Ideas about Where and How Learning Takes Place

By Waters, John K. | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), December 2007 | Go to article overview

A Movable Feast: Furniture on Wheels! Wireless Islands! Cutting-Edge K-12 Classroom Design Marries Digital Technologies with Thoughtful Architecture, Challenging Traditional Ideas about Where and How Learning Takes Place


Waters, John K., T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


BACK WHEN MENKO JOHNSON WAS TEACHING sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders about computers at Crestview Middle School in Columbus, OH, he spent most of his time in a gymnasium that had been converted into a computer lab. The students' desks were arranged along the walls, and when they worked on the computers, they faced those walls.

"It was a classic computer lab environment," Johnson recalls. "It meant that 80 percent of my students had their backs to me most of the time. The room was arranged that way, not because it would be a good teaching setup, but to accommodate the wiring."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It is also a classic example of a learning space made less effective by technology.

Today, Johnson is an instructional technologist at San Jose State University in California, where he focuses his time on the effective integration of technology and learning spaces, with an emphasis on collaboration and flexibility. Johnson is part of a team supporting SJSU's state-of-the-art, 10,000-square-foot Academic Success Center. At the heart of the project is an incubator classroom that combines movable furniture with an array of audiovisual technologies designed to enable collaborative classroom interaction.

"In the old days, we let the technology dictate the configuration of the learning space," he says. "Now what we talk about is a flexible classroom that can be arranged any way you like into a teaching environment that suits you. In our case, that means that we use tables and chairs instead of desks. And just about every piece of furniture is on wheels so that the space can be easily reconfigured. Think of the classroom as a grid on which you can move the tables and chairs anywhere you want."

Johnson believes that the lessons learned at SJSU can help K-12 districts design more effective, tech-enabled classrooms. In elementary classes, for example, where the younger students stay in one room all day, movable furniture and wireless computer stations could allow the teacher to reconfigure the space on the fly to support different activities. The SJSU incubator classroom features three projection screens: a large one in front and two on the sides. This configuration would allow, say, a high school teacher to display multiple pieces of information to different work groups collaborating within the same classroom in what Johnson calls "micro-environments." A central server, like the one housed in the incubator space, could facilitate collaboration in any classroom by connecting wireless laptops.

Though the focus of Johnson's work is the impact of technology on instruction and student learning, he insists that a successful synchronizing of technology and classroom puts the teaching before the gadgetry.

"Whenever we talk about technology in education, we have to start with the pedagogy," he says. "What are your teaching goals? What are you trying to achieve? What types of learning do you want to happen? It is true that we are surrounded by, and even immersed in, technology, but we still have to leverage it in a way that is educationally useful, in a way that's better than what we don't do digitally. Just because it's digital doesn't mean it's better for learning."

The key is to think about how the technology will support your teaching goals, Johnson says, but you also want a physical space that supports the technology. That includes things like flexible furniture and easy access to power and networking outlets. The pedagogy, technology, and architecture revolve around each other, he says, but always with the educational issues at the center.

"Let's assume that you are trying to create K-12 learners that are problem solvers," Johnson explains. "You want them to be able to take in information, assess it, digest it, and assemble it to solve problems as a team. If your students are sitting at tiny desks in rows facing the front of a rectangular classroom, it's going to be difficult to achieve that goal. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Movable Feast: Furniture on Wheels! Wireless Islands! Cutting-Edge K-12 Classroom Design Marries Digital Technologies with Thoughtful Architecture, Challenging Traditional Ideas about Where and How Learning Takes Place
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.