New desks keep pace with our 21st Century learners

Just as laptops, iPads and SMARTboards have become new tools for today's learners, innovative desks - the node - are one of the latest products that are aiding Norfolk Collegiate’s 21st Century learners.

he implementation was part of the school’s strategic plan for instructional technology. The goal was to create spaces equipped with technology designed for student creativity and collaboration. By implementing the nodes, the students are able to better utilize their iPads in class, as well as be able to move from one activity to another, lecture to group work, for example, with minimal interruption.

The nodes were implemented following several months of testing in the Upper School English classrooms. While this week marks one month since the nodes were implemented in 11 Upper School classrooms, the students are still raving about the desks. 

The furniture “allows for collaboration and flexibility in classroom arrangement,” said Charlene Loope, director of instructional technology and communication arts at Norfolk Collegiate. “It’s an essential element of 21st century classroom design, particularly in a one-to-one iPad environment.”

The benefits
Upper School English teacher Margaret Dalrymple was one of teachers whose classrooms was selected for the trial and now has at least 20 desks in her classroom. “I love them,” she said of the desks. “This is what's current, and they allow the students to move while still focusing in class.” 

The desks sit atop five casters, which allow them to move easily when needed. “I do move the desks around a lot depending on what the primary activity is in class and these move easily and quickly,” said Dalrymple. “Students can easily swivel around to talk to each other for a group discussion and they can move the desks together to form a larger working area when needed and then back to their single workspace when the activity is over.” 

The desktops also swivel, which allow greater flexibility, especially for our left-handed students. Atop the desks are tablet stands, which provide a space for students to prop up their iPads and work while also allowing surface space for other resources, such as books and paper. 

Below the desks is a tripod base, which provides storage for the students. The seat is an open design so students can enter and exit the chair easily. It’s also comfortable for students of all heights.

“They fit the iPad's well and it's a clean, fresh look,” said Darylmple. “Underneath also is great for storing the iPad's safely.”

For our kinesthetic learners, the desks also allow them to move and learn more easily. 

“For our kids who benefit from moving while learning because their attention can wander, these desks allow their attention to stay focused,” said Dalrymple. “It allows them to move a little in a distracted way so that they don’t have to sit so still.”

Sophomore Joshua Glaser-Wirt is one such learner. “I love the chairs,” he said. “I have ADHD, so they allow me to move while still paying attention, which has helped a lot." For Joshua, the chairs also allow him the ability to move back and forth while still being able to focus on his schoolwork. “I’ve seen a big improvement in my grades in that class and the others with those chairs,” he said. 

Before the school implemented the nodes, they tried three different models. The node by Steelcase was the clear winner. “The other trial desk was too heavy and would sometimes tip over,” said Dalrymple.