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Mobile & Modular Furniture & Technology in Flexible Learning Spaces 

VS Learning in Motion

“When you observe children, you notice very clearly that their mental development emanates from physical exercise.” –Maria Montessori

Learning Environment ➡️ Learning Spaces ➡️ Micro Learning Spaces

This blog follows my post, Learning Environments: From Macro To Micro where I defined micro learning spaces as smaller instructional groupings, or personal spaces planned within a learning space like a classroom, library, or makerspace.

As teachers form smaller learning groups within a whole classroom, the space itself is infused with furniture, materials, tools and technology that enhances everyone’s sensory input, physical movement, and psychological well-being. It is common to now call these learning spaces, “flexible,” “agile,” or “active,” that literally or philosophically describes a “bending” from 20th century whole-group instruction.

I like to use the term “mobile and modular” (or “mobimod”) to describe the live action of a classroom moving from one activity to the next. Imagine a fourth grade classroom working on a paper airplane building project in small groups, and then, the students and teacher easily move their ‘mobimod’ furniture to the walls to make room for a square dancing activity happening five minutes later, in the same space.

To optimize such a flexible design, these face-to-face learning spaces utilize five categories of furniture and technology to enhance student movement, which in turn helps to spark their motivation, engagement, and creativity.

1. Seating and Movement
Sitting with subtle movement while working independently or in groups

2. Modular Sitting Tables
Sitting at shaped tables that optimize space while working in groups or independently

3. Sit to Stand Tables and Movement
Having a standing option to weight-transfer while working independently or in groups

4. AV & Visual Communications
Walls that talk using audio, video and visuals with a variety of fixed and mobile displays and boards

5. Mobile Storage
Bin and cabinet places organized and optimized for stacking and mobility. Personalized storage for each student, and for the variety of room materials, books, tools and technology.

Educators are empowered as interior designers to create learning spaces that include a broader mix of hard and soft furniture:

  • not using all the same desks/tables and chairs;
  • not all made by the same manufacturer;
  • and, may include furniture used for office, work, lobby, restaurant, and home living spaces. 

The following series of images illustrate a sampling of furniture that D&D Integrated Solutions sells to school districts with an emphasis on mobile and modular learning space design.

 1. Seating and Movement

Sitting with subtle movement while working independently or in groups 

2. Modular Sitting Tables

Sitting at shaped tables that optimize space while working in groups or independently

3. Sit to Stand Tables and Movement

Having a standing option to weight-transfer while working independently or in groups


4. AV & Visual Communications

Walls that talk using audio, video and visuals with a variety of fixed and mobile displays, and boards

5. Mobile Storage

Bin and cabinet places organized and optimized for stacking and mobility. Personalized storage for each student, and for the variety of  room materials, books, tools and technology

Transitions to Transformation

For typical K-12 sized classrooms, libraries and labs, flexible physical space design replaces the ‘all same desks and chairs mentality’ with a variety of eclectic layouts of furniture and technology. For most educators, this is an evolving process.

  • In 21st century classrooms, students often do not have assigned seating. Elementary grades have replaced assigned desk space with personalized bins and mobile storage as the room is set up with some furniture for sitting, some for standing, and some for even laying out. It is a place where the physical space is designed to optimize personalized and collaborative work in a safe and nested environment.
  • Many manufacturers now make a variety of geometric shape desks that look good on paper, but often that curved or angled shape that fits like a puzzle piece with the other desks can be a space killer in smaller learning spaces. I have found that rectangular, half-circles, circles, and triangles often work better in classrooms designed at or under 960 square feet. It is just so very important to get the teacher’s input and measure the learning space upfront before any new furniture is ordered.
  • Chairs and tables with wheel casters are a low tech innovation with a potential for a high level of disruption in traditional K-12 classrooms. Over the years, I’ve had several central office staff members tell me how bad casters are for classroom behavioral management. Here’s a  key tip to share in one’s flexible transitions.
    • Teachers discuss with their students the difference between ‘passive sitting’ (little to no movement) and ‘active sitting’ (gentle movement and positions that do not disrupt the people around them). Together they can explore and discuss different ways students can actively sit, stand and move during class time. For example, some high school students have been sitting in the same model navy blue chairs at the same two-student desks, for ten years. Students already embrace the ‘fidget’ concept but it’s essential that the teacher leads and is consistent with their classroom movement procedures.
  • I’m also an advocate for cantilever type chairs with foot glides. Cantilever chairs are a great example of moving from a traditional stiff four-legged chair to the subtle rocking motion built into the cantilever design.

To flex minds, we need to flex classroom space. Learning spaces in the 2020’s need non-traditional eclectic designs to create a positive learning environment. The key to indoor learning space design combines a student’s need to fidget, rock, swivel, stretch, stand, and even get horizontal with mobile and modular furniture and technology. Subtle self-movement and weight transfer keeps our brains stimulated and helps prevent mental fatigue within a contained space. It’s really simple, physical movement sparks the mind to enhance one’s motivation, engagement, and creativity that open paths for learning.

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