Folsom High Updates Classrooms with Collaboration Desks
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A bond measure approved by local voters in 2014 has enabled California's Folsom High School to experiment with an open plan classroom space to make student learning more active. The improvements were made at the same time the high school underwent additional upgrades in its data infrastructure and video security setup.
The school replaced several traditional classrooms with spaces sporting collaboration furniture. For example, a computer lab with legacy computers and rows of static desks was modernized to collaborative learning desks from Smartdesks. Folsom chose Pi collaboration tables equipped with "flipIT" displays that let students work with each other, use their computers, draw sketches and build prototypes simultaneously. Each desktop has space for working on projects next to a computer screen. For instance, students recently used the additional workspace to program electronic code while assembling kit robots.
Teacher Jean Cavanaugh arranged the tables into learning pods, each with four individual workstations.
Folsom High School has adopted Pi collaboration tables equipped with "flipIT" displays that let students work with each other, use their computers, draw sketches and build prototypes simultaneously.
She works at a height-adjustable Qstar computer table, which can be rolled elsewhere in the room. "What the Smartdesks allow me to do, for the first time in 20 years, is to get rid of the front of the room," she said in a prepared statement. "I love being able to teach from any part of my classroom and the movement and flow of the extra space around the desks allow me to get to the students quicker than in my old lab. Students feel like they are the focus of the room."
Students are in favor of the new classroom design too. "I've had Ms. Cavanaugh for three years now," said Senior Dane Leineke. "Before the changes to her classroom, it was dull and boring — nothing special. Now, every day I step into her classroom, I feel like I'm a Google employee arriving for another day on the job."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.