New classroom furniture facilitates 21st-century instruction

Briggs added, “What has also become apparent is the need for space that supports interaction. It is this interaction that creates collaboration. When technology is at work in a collaborative setting, data show that the learning experience of the student is greatly enhanced.”

The furniture, which was unveiled at InfoComm 2011 in Orlando, includes small, round, café-style tables and larger, rectangular tables—some mounted on wheels—with built-in USB power; modular, cushioned chairs that can stand alone or be grouped together to form a sofa; and a “presentation shuttle,” or mobile lectern on wheels.

Through a partnership with Powermat, Bretford has integrated that company’s wireless charging mats into the surfaces of its EDU 2.0 furniture. The mats are intended to make sure that personal learning devices remain fully charged and ready to be used as desired.

Users will need a charger accessory for their smart phone to take advantage of the mats’ capabilities, but students and teachers can buy these accessories at any electronics store, said Cindy Weinschreider, senior marketing manager for Bretford. Or, schools could sell the devices as a fundraising activity, she suggested.