Remember tablet arm chairs? The old stalwarts of “pack ‘em in” classroom design? The chairs have been unpopular with designers for years for a variety of reasons. They don’t stack, are hard to move around, and the tablets themselves are often too small for the needs of today’s students. But perhaps the most insidious problem with the chairs is a fundamental challenge to any classroom design: the backpack issue. Bags usually end up either on the floor or hanging on the back of the chairs, often rendering them unstable.
A new breed – or new brand – of chairs has emerged in recent years to combat these problems. The chairs riff on the old-style tablet chairs and update them in a variety of ways. They’re bigger for our growing population. They move around on nifty castors and have good stability and mobility. They have low slung shelves for stowage and bigger tables for “stuff.” And they come in cool colors.
So now designers have some fun options that could reintroduce the tablet arm solution, in collaborative learning environments where the instructor can ask the students to organize themselves into groups or to face in particular directions based on the learning opportunity at hand. And as you know, it’s always good to have choices.