All you have to do is look around to see how "natural" learning occurs. At coffee shops, airports, lobbies, libraries and even family kitchens and living rooms, lifelong learners have their laptops open and cell phones in constant motion. They are texting, e-mailing, inquiring, researching, documenting, photographing, preparing and organizing information. It has become a way of life, a way of immediate access to information.
Gone are the days of questioning something and promising to look it up later. Today's lifelong learner will query immediately using any technology to find the answer or find a pathway to learn more.
Challenging and engaging
The Internet has provided an accessible path to information. Making this available to students can be enhanced with furniture that has wire access and schools that are wireless. Students want to retrieve information in common areas, as well as in learning spaces. Pull-aside stand-up counters and tables in circulation paths and common spaces enable learners to use laptops and other technology nearly everywhere.
Teaching and learning strategies that can customize learning are challenging students to learn to their highest potential. Teaching and learning are happening in diverse settings, and teachers are facilitating multiple activities at one time. Hands-on independent and collaborative learning keeps students engaged and inspired. While making sure that core curriculum outcomes are met, teachers are creating ways to modify the lecture-and-lesson delivery to a seek-and-learn strategy that can be individualized. Curriculum developers are learning much from computer game strategies that constantly challenge players, provide immediate feedback, and offer an opportunity to "redo" if the players fail. Informal, lounge-type furniture can facilitate this individualized approach in settings to which students are accustomed.
As teachers customize a student's education to accommodate learning styles, they must pay close attention to ergonomics. Furniture that is mobile, adjustable and supports students' bodies (accommodating a variety of shapes and sizes) must be considered; comfort is important to learning and keeping students engaged. A variety of flexible furniture types and sizes also enables teachers to incorporate new learning approaches.
Movement is important to learning. Seating must have flex and various positioning; the ability to sit backwards or even sideways in a seat can meet needs for a student to move, enabling him or her to focus on learning.