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Taking Technology to School

Taking Technology to School

Devices like the fully networked Wharton Lectern and the Laptop Garage table are making life easier for wired students and teachers.

By By Jeff Yoders, Associate Editor | August 11, 2010
This article first appeared in the 200605 issue of BD+C.

Say good-bye to the simple wooden lectern and table. Today's college students (and the laptops they bring with them to class) are forcing classroom furniture designers to keep up with technology. The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) last year awarded its Best and Brightest Idea Award to the Wharton Lectern. The award was announced at the annual SCUP Conference, attended by more than 16,000 higher education facilities managers. The Wharton Lectern, designed by furniture maker KI, Green Bay, Wis., in conjunction with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of many products designed for the smart classroom. KI also produces the "Laptop Garage," a classroom table with hatches for laptops.

How Wharton lectures

The Wharton Lectern's standard features include a gooseneck lamp, an expanding top, adjustable height, laptop storage area, and a "technology well" that allows it to connect to a room's presentation system yet still hide exposed wires. It also has a touchpanel control system with a 15-inch LCD screen.

"We had the benefit of a customer (the Wharton School) who had invested significant energy in advancing the entire learning place for the benefit of students and lecturers," said Mike Tennity, VP of design and development at KI.

Wharton professors collaborated with KI in designing the lectern. The technology well and laptop storage area are hidden to allow it to have both functional and high aesthetic quality. The first 50 Wharton lecterns are in use at Wharton today.

The lectern is also built to allow upgrades with space for expansion cards for RGB graphics, video or internet communications, and flexible space for extra monitors and laptop storage.

Park your laptop here

Since many college students now take notes on laptop computers, the need to keep students attention during lectures has become an issue in many college classrooms. With the Laptop Garage, KI is introducing a solution that can turn any classroom into a computer lab. When laptop access is needed, the Laptop Garage provides adequate space and cord management for laptops.

Pull down the garage door for a flat writing surface. An optional keyless locking system can be programmed to simultaneously lock or unlock an entire room of Laptop Garages or individual units. Laptop Garages fit laptop sizes up to 17 inches. Custom units are available for bigger laptops.

"We're seeing more design of space and furniture being driven by technology," said Tennity. "Products like this allow the classroom to flex from period to period, allowing colleges to have a number of computer labs without the cost of room reconfiguration."

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