How Can Fixed Seating Be Collaborative in a Classroom Environment?

August 13, 2019

The idea of collaborative learning has gained more and more traction and importance in recent years. Not only in the education space, but in the workplace as well. According to Cornell University Center for Teaching Innovation, research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned leads to deeper learning.

When it comes to designing or renovating a classroom, you want to consider how space can be more collaborative, so that it is conducive to creating the best learning environment.

As manufacturers of lecture hall and auditorium seating, we understand the significance of choosing seating that not only looks and feels good but benefits students in the best way possible. In this article, we will discuss the challenges of loose furniture in the classroom and then we will discuss two common set-ups with fixed seating that help solve the challenges of loose furniture and is collaborative at the same time. Let’s take a look!

Challenges of Loose Furniture in the Classroom

One of the challenges of loose tables and chairs in a classroom is that, while students are encouraged to move furniture around to gather into groups, these same classrooms end up being disorganized and a mess after each use.

A common misconception is that only loose furniture can achieve the collaborative goal of the 21st century classroom. Collaboration can be possible with fixed seating products too! Not only can fixed seating be configured in a way that promotes collaboration, but it can help eliminate clutter and mess that comes with loose furniture. The key is to select the right products and the right configuration for the collaborative environment.

Two Common Set-ups for a Collaborative Environment

There are two common set-ups for a collaborative classroom that involves fixed seating:

  1. Fixed tables with loose chairs or fixed tables with swing-away arms

    A classroom with this setup will typically have two runs of tables on each tier, with the ability for all students to face forward and use as a traditional teaching lecture. The front tables will be at a standard 18” depth with modesty panels, and the row behind, the collaborative table, will typically have a 24” depth without modesty panels, allowing for the users to rotate, pull-up and collaborate with their team behind them.

    If you decide that you do not want loose chairs with fixed tables, we would suggest something like an innovative swing-arm product that features a torsion spring (the mechanism which auto returns the chair), that disengages when in use, allowing the user to feel like they are sitting in a loose task chair. This allows the user to turn to any position and to pull up to the collaborative table freely without the tugging back to the auto return position. The beauty of a system like this is the combination of ease of use along with a clean and tidy classroom. Also, incorporating a self-centering seat return provides consistent seat count and room uniformity which maximizes collaboration and capacity.

  2. A combination of fixed beam seating with jury base seating

    Very similar to the scenario above, there are two runs of chairs on each riser, alternating between fixed beam seating (for capacity) and jury base chairs that rotate 360, allowing the students in the jury base chairs to collaborate side by side and behind. If you would like to go this route, you will want to find a manufacturer that offers jury base chairs that auto return, when a tablet is attached, so that there is an organized room after use. Also, incorporating a self-centering seat return provides consistent seat count and room uniformity which maximizes collaboration and capacity.

It's important to keep in mind, the above are only two common scenarios. A good manufacturer will be able to provide fixed tables that can be customized to different shapes and applications.

In conclusion: everyone is realizing just how important collaborative learning is. In order to have a space that is set-up for this type of learning environment, you need to look at the best seating options. Loose furniture no longer has to be the only answer to this problem. There are great fixed seating options that work exceptionally well for collaborative learning. A reputable manufacturer will be able to fulfill the need for a collaborative setting and configuration that can be easily maintained and well organized.

At Sedia Systems we are the leading global manufacturer of lecture hall and auditorium furniture. We offer the widest range of fixed seating for the education, corporate, healthcare, government, and public assembly markets.

If you are looking for a manufacturer for your next fixed seating project and have questions regarding auditorium seating or anything else, contact us directly or leave a comment below.