SOURCE: One Workplace

One Workplace

November 03, 2009 11:30 ET

SJSU Connie L. Lurie College of Education Unveils 21st Century Technology Classroom

MILPITAS, CA--(Marketwire - November 3, 2009) - When the students of the Lurie College of Education at San Jose State University walked into Room 231 at Sweeney Hall this fall, they were in for a surprise. Rather than faced with the standard rows of desks and a chalkboard, they were greeted with a 21st century learning environment.

In 2008, sisters-in-law Donna Lenz Rooney and Marla Duino Lenz presented SJSU with a generous donation for the purpose of building a classroom in honor of Donna's grandmother, Leola Lyth Forward. When the idea to build a high-tech, 21st century room came up, Mary McVey, Interim Associate Dean, began researching furniture and technology applications in classrooms. In her research, she came across Steelcase and its local dealer, One Workplace. The One Workplace Education team, led by Jan Hahn and Trevor Croghan, saw it as an opportunity to apply Steelcase learning environment research and jumped on board.

When designing the classroom, SJSU wanted several elements included. For one, the room needed to be highly interactive and flexible enough to easily accommodate group and concentrative work. Also, officials wanted students to be the focus of the room, rather than instructors. Finally, they wanted students to feel they were in a learning environment where lessons could expand to all aspects of life. At this point, One Workplace was able to step in and provided the school with furniture specifications, configuration ideas, and technology consultation. The room was outfitted with furniture from Steelcase and Turnstone, a Steelcase company.

At its dedication ceremony on September 9th, the classroom was well received. According to McVey, "Everyone loved it. Visually it's a really pleasant place to be in." Students have reacted just as well to the new room. The combination of high and low-tech elements makes it very easy for students to adapt to. "In fact, we've had more problems with keeping students out of the room when class isn't in session!" says McVey.

One aspect that made the biggest impact was seating. Using Cachet by Steelcase chairs, One Workplace provided SJSU with an ergonomic solution. Studies show that seating has an enormous effect in any learning environment, whether a classroom or a training room. The One Workplace Education team realized that helping students take care of their bodies in the classroom would be the first step in engaging them in any learning activity.

For McVey and the other professors at SJSU, the benefits of the Leola Lyth Forward 21st Century Technology Classroom go beyond making today's lessons easier. "This classroom is so important because the fact remains that we're trying to model modern day instructional techniques to students who will become teachers themselves one day. It's critical to have this technology because it's not just for our students; it's for the future students as well."

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    Megan Battiato