Today's learning spaces are designed to be flexible, creative and bold. They need to promote an inclusive atmosphere and encourage collaboration between students. Seating is an important part of any learning environment; it needs to be practical, comfortable and supportive in order to assist in the optimisation of learning.
Collaborative seating enables students to work with each other while still having the benefits of a traditional lecture environment. It's also easy for students to access digital content while seated, due to the integrated power and data ports.
People are used to the traditional style of seating in learning spaces such as lecture theatres, a single seat with a small writing area, or place to locate a laptop, attached. Collaborative seating enables several students to sit together, with shared seating and a shared desk space. The desk space has data and power sockets built in, so that students can use laptops or tablets during lectures, or associated collaborative sessions.
Technological advancements, such as the expansion of the Internet and the growth in the use of mobile devices, have had a significant impact on the world of education. As technology has advanced, so learning methodologies have been developed. One such methodology is collaborative learning. Several benefits of this type of learning have been identified.
• The development of social skills amongst students who are encouraged to work together. This is especially important for students who are in advanced and higher education. They are at the stage in their lives when they need to be able to interact and engage with others in order to be independent.
• A combining of knowledge and skills. Different students have different attributes which they can bring to a group discussion. This means that students can learn from each other and not just from teachers.
• The development of trust. The more students collaborate in their learning, the more they learn to trust each other. This is important as most people need to be able to build trustful working and social relationships throughout their lives.
• Greater engagement in learning. Most students find learning in a group to be motivating. They engage more with the experience because they are sharing it with others and getting support from them.
• The development of confidence. It's often not easy to express ideas in front of a group of people. Collaborative learning enables students to get plenty of practice doing this and their confidence grows as a result.
It's difficult to support collaborative learning if students are all sat separately. This is why collaborative seating is so important.
Collaborative seating can be configured in several different ways, so different sized groups of students can be supported. This makes this type of seating a flexible solution for any learning space.
Collaborative learning may encourage students to learn from each other but teacher led learning is still important; students benefit most if they are exposed to different ways of learning. If collaborative seating is used, the teacher is still able to walk amongst students providing assistance. The seating can also be configured in a way that enables students to listen to a lecture and take part in study groups, all as part of the same learning session.
The fact that collaborative seating includes integrated power and data ports is important. Students can take notes of lectures on digital devices. They can also use the Internet to carry out any necessary research. These research skills are some of the most important that students develop; they are useful throughout life. No-one can hope to know everything but they can be aware of how to find out anything that they need to know.
In a world where collaborative learning is becoming more popular, collaborative seating is an important addition in learning spaces. Students benefit from being seated together, so that they can share knowledge and provide encouragement to each other. They also benefit from the teacher being able to walk up to them and interact on a one to one basis. Collaborative seating enables this type of flexibility in a learning environment. It also embraces technology and enables students to use digital devices as an integral part of their learning. Different groups of students have different needs, so collaborative seating can be configured to suit different classrooms and lecture spaces. It's a flexible seating solution that helps to encourage integration and shared learning, whether it's in a lecture hall or in a public area.