Combining Tech with Furniture? How PolyVision and Steelcase Are Integrating the Two to Enhance Learning in the Classroom

Today PolyVision, the company that has brought ēno™ interactive whiteboards to classrooms, announced their educational technology will now be a part of Steelcase Education Solutions, bringing together furniture, tools, and technology to meet the needs of students, educators, and learning spaces from grades K to 20.

I know what you’re thinking: what do technology and furniture have to do with each other? (Or at least, that’s what I was thinking.) So we spoke with Rob Heitmeier, PolyVision’s General Manager, who explained to us how furniture factors into the pedagogical process.

“Kids coming into the classroom these days are truly digital natives,”

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Heitmeier said. “Classrooms need the

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technology to support the educational process.”

Heitmeier made the important point that while teaching methods are constantly evolving and improving as teachers move away from the lecture-only model toward large group instruction, small group instruction, peer-to-peer instruction, and individual instruction, the layout of the classroom hasn’t quite reflected that change.

“Teaching used to take place at the front of the classroom, but that’s not always the case anymore,” he said. “Students have changed, methods have changed, technology has changed. But the classroom is still largely about fixed rows of chairs and desks, with the teacher’s desk at front of classroom.”

Steelcase and PolyVision both have quite a bit of experience in their respective fields. PolyVision has been around for over 55 years, and their educational technology is in front of 200 million students a day, as their chalkboards, dry erase boards, and interactive ēno™boards make up over 70 percent of the marketshare of boards. (Check out PolyVision’s other great products here.) Steelcase celebrates its 100th anniversary this year of their work in workplace products, furnishing, and services. Over the years they’ve researched how people work in the office, which over the years has helped companies develop better and better workplace products to increase efficiency.

With the integration of PolyVision’s excellent educational technology products and Steelcase’s research and expertise on furniture made for the office environment, Steelcase Education Solutions will apply the two companies’ specialties to the classroom in order to enable the furniture, space, and technology to enhance the pedagogical process.

Heitmeier explained some of the great new products that integrate classroom furniture and technology that Steelcase Education Solutions will be offering:

  • Node®: A mobile chair that a desktop attaches to, so work on the computer doesn’t have to remain static.
  • Verb™: A table and whiteboard product that can move about the classroom, supporting large or small group instruction, so the teacher isn’t restricted to the front of the classroom.
  • media:scape®: An LCD screen with a puck (a device that transfers information from the media:scape to other devices such as laptops) that can be removed and then plugged into student laptops, allowing students to share what’s on their laptop onto media:scape®, so that students can collaborate in small groups more easily.

We’ll certainly keep our eye on PolyVision and Steelcase Education Solutions over the next few months to see what kinds of new tech products they develop for the classroom.

Do you use or plan on using PolyVision products or Steelcase Education Solutions in your classroom? Share your experience with me at cdoyle@technapex.com, or reach out on Twitter to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.