Up, Close, and Personal

In education, you realize, every opportunity is a teachable moment, and that certainly does not reside only with students.  That is if you are an educator that truly cares about education.  You have to be willing to accept the educational moments as well and run with them if you expect others to do the same.

Steel Case.  Awhile ago, one of the grants I was exploring and writing for was a company I was unfamiliar with, that being Steelcase.

Later, Was was called to followup with Steelcase and possibly talk with them.  I noticed they were located in Pennsylvania, near King of Prussia, the east side of Pennsylvania. I thought why not? 

When I made it to Corporate Interiors headquarters, I found an amazing design in a building, and took several snapshots.  As I walked into the suite of , it as easy to see, as I would learn later, there were several various options that made Steelcase who they were.  From Audio Visual sides of things, to education, to design and 3D design, to so much more, it was exciting to learn how so many components were under one roof, as well as Industrial Design having the option of many various designers and providers to create designs that truly were futuristic.  

Through the sit down discussions we had, it was motivating to have individuals from all various backgrounds and facets of the design world involved.  There was so much that makes you realize how diverse education is and can be – 

The room we started in was welcoming right away due to the fact that there was a Welcome Woodbridge screen

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with our homepage right on there!  What I learned while in there was the way rooms such as this could be so quiet due to the seals that were on the doors as they closed.  In addition the versatility of the table, with controls on both end that allowed input for almost any form of communication/media transfer to occur – awesome.  Built into the table you had all the adapters and connections needed to facilitate any form of conferencing and software out there.  Add to this the microphones that were made for a conference call that would come down from the ceiling, and of course, add the paneling of the room that could be replaced and moved around easily to accommodate screens and monitors of all types as could be moved from one time to another as the design of the room changes.  Only upon leaving did I notice the custom shaped table fit the room design as well and realized how rooms can be fit to all types of technology experiences to enhance the education that occurs in those rooms and among other people.

When we walked out of the conference room it was really we easy to hear the noise, which was not much, but sounded like much when you noticed there was no noise in the conference room (lol), and wow – the seal that were used completely silenced that conference room!

Also, being shown how transmitters in the ceiling allowed voices to be heard clearly among individuals and conversations muted out around the room, not silencing them but allowing you to concentrate on the conversation happening in front of you – really showed how technology helped focus on all conversations and specifically one among many,  

Also, the monitors and wall screens that were shown not only showed the capabilities of how announcements specifically for the library could literally run across each screen, across the wall, to allow specific event within a contained area to be noticed more for a specific area.  Add to this the monitors that existed outside room that could tell you this specific area was taken, reserved, from what time to what time, as well as being linked to a main scheduling point so all the lab/room monitors could be up to date with specific reservations – I was thinking of all the long methods I had used to reserve, account for, and maintain spaces when they were being reserved.

Wiring for electric was pretty amazing as was the models for wiring that involved wi-fi and internet.  From mobile units that could serve as power towers around the room, to beneath the floor constructions so space was made tor wiring to rung beneath the floor everyone walked on ( and being able to see a cutaway section of what that looked like in the floor) all showed how intelligence is used to streamline the best possible space for a learning environment.

Furniture also that was made within this company (it is exciting that every single item is made in-house, so this also shows the design and functionality as being used is practical) was comfortable and simply reminded me of goals like Ikea, creative, space-saving, very new design that takes a space and literally conserves space instead of just taking up space. From chairs that allowed the maximum structure for getting work done, to being ergonomic in feel and work style, to being fully mobile and adjustable – the amazing methods I saw to allow spaces to be flipped from one moment to another was a lesson in showing how education itself is constantly changing, and how a room can easily fit into that ideal of constantly shifting knowledge.

Also being able to see how 3D works into this scenario, not only as part of the design of a specific learning area, but also having the capability for Industrial Design to tour your existing learning facility, note the needs of a space and then be able to show the proposed ideas in 3D virtual reality to be able to take a “walk” through several scenarios, provides a taste of what education, technology, and engineering all have to do with education today as it is still evolving.  

Mentioning how possibilities could exist where students could visit Steelcase/Corporate Interiors and see how aspects of STEM and STEAM can be incorporated into educational design was exciting.  I think it is vital to continue to how students how aspects of education can be so aligned with corporate, engineering, and design in working with existing companies today, that could create a larger understanding of concepts that can’t be fully realized in a classroom alone.

After the tour, with so many features more presented, from an OWL that can detect the voices that are speaking and follow with the appropriate image upon detecting voice, to the puck devices that are found in tables that hold a variety of adapter connections for a variety of computers, to the audio and visual creation that enhance stereo, individual, and conference-style meetings, to portable rooms that can be used for recording AND moved, to walls that can create a new room and be taken down and located in another position to create new rooms for various needs, to taking in the countless styles of furniture for every possible function imaginable, it seemed this was a imagineers school for educators, as well as for students.

One of the most electric moments was the mention of how many students have an opportunity to reach out to companies and visit them, while in school, just as if they were opening their eyes to the type of campus or college the envision.  In doing so, they begin to see the facets of the work force that is not described on a job description,  They see what is possible, they see that truly their talents can be utilized in ways that are not written on any job descriptions, yet, but they could be.  The idea from Steelcase that students could visit their office and see how designers impact education in their setting was a powerful idea, an idea educators should be directly involved with to led student to areas they may or may not be interested in. Waiting until they get into their first year of college to do so, too late.  They should be exploring possibilities and ideas alongside seeing how and where the talents they possess can be applied in the best scenario for them.  This does not necessarily mean a four-year college, but could also involve artistic approaches to education found in the trade/technical field, as well as in a hundred different places that often do not fall into the category of the four year college and beyond. 

But it could be that possibility.

That is the beauty of education, together, educators and students can find a path that both works for them, and discover what can be done that isn’t, and what can’t be done, can be done. It takes a vested interest in the student, the field of education, and wherever that might take both, and not being prescribed – as the world today doesn’t seem to exactly follow a for-sure definite pattern of certainty.  I do believe companies like Steelcase and educators that believe in infinite possibilities, and that guide students that way, will indeed personalize education and possibilities that we can only dream about, but begin at glimpse at today.



About Harry Brake

Employee of Woodbridge High School, Library Media Specialist, Media crazy! :)
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