Top 10 Ways to Use a SQWeezel

The SQWEEZEL, a universal tablet mounting system, is revolutionary for hands-free support for many activities. In the office, on the job, or even at home, we look at the top ten ways of how to use the SQWeezel.
1.      In the Kitchen
Tablets have a wealth of space to store recipes and with easy access to the internet it provides millions of recipes at your fingertips. Clip the SQWeezel on the kitchen counter keeping it away from the mess of the food or the heat of the stove, but within sight.
SQWeezel
2.      While You Exercise
Don’t trust the SQWeezel on an unsecure magazine rack that is part of your exercise bike or treadmill. Clip the SQWeezel to the machine and start burning calories. You can read, listen to music or answer email while doing your daily workout. Just make sure you don’t clip it to a road bike; that could be dangerous!
SmartDesks SQWeezel
3.      On the Job
Whether you are in an office, lab, or working with your hands in an industrial setting, the SQWeezel can help by providing you instruction or helping you record your data.
SmartDesks SQWeezel
4.      At School
Educational technology is a leading trend in the 21st century in schools for children of all ages. Whether you are teaching a concept through visual learning, maintaining your class attendance list, or reading a story to the children, the SQWeezel is a great tool!
SQWeezel SmartDesks
5.      In a Hospital
Both doctors and patients can benefit from the SQWeezel. Medical facilities have been incorporating tablet technology through the United States over the recent years. Patients who have extended hospital stays can clip the holder to a chair or hospital bed for entertainment.
SmartDesks SQWeezel
6.      As a Store Check-Out Option
With credit card technology, restaurants and stores are beginning to adopt the tablet check-out style. Stores can outfit their check-out location with tables to clip the mount and save space and money on bulky outdated machines.
SQWeezel SmartDesks
7.      In the Car
While we don’t advise the driver to use a SQWeezel while driving, unless they want to take advantage of GPS directions on their tablet, parents can add SQWeezels to their cars for children entertainment and learning.
Children in Car
8.      By the Couch or in Bed
Get rid of the arm strain of holding a tablet to your side or above you to watch a film or read a book. Just clip the stand to your nightstand or a table near the couch and turn the screen horizontally.
Woman in Bed iPad
9.      Outside on a Nice Day
Want to enjoy the great outdoors while reading an eBook? Clip your tablet with your SQWeezel to the chair and soak up the sun!
SQWeezel SmartDesks
10.  While on an Airplane
Depending on the length of your flight, entertainment may be a necessity while you travel. By attaching the SQWeezel to the tray table in front of you, you will free up space for food or additional materials you may need out during the flight.

Airplane Tray Table  

 
 
 
 
 
Want to learn more about the SQWeezel?
Visit: http://www.smartdesks.com/ipad-holder-stand-sqweezel.asp

Collaborative Spaces: Designing The Modern Classroom

Collaboration is becoming the catchphrase of modern office and education institutions. Days of the cubicle are numbered, and straight lines of desks in schools are overlooked in favor of more flexible desk arrangements.
What is collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is the process by which students or employees form teams to tackle a significant problem. It can take place in close proximity or long distance, through teleconferencing and Internet communication technology.
Problem-based learning is a common theme in a collaborative approach to education, in which students engage with their peers and teammates to best understand the subject at hand.
How can we design classrooms that foster collaboration?
The key to collaboration is successful communication. Desk arrangements can determine the ease with which students and professors interact. SMARTdesks iGroup and Exchange tables offer flexibility in their configurations. Desk element interlock with each other in a variety of shapes; just a few options include the hexagon, pinwheel, leaf, and wave shapes, as seen below.
SMARTdesks iGroup computer collaboration tables, specially designed for K-8 environments:

Collaboration-Tables-Modern-Computer-Desk-K-8-Learning

This iGroup table is located at the Hackensack Public Library in New Jersey, and specially designed for elementary and middle school student use.
This SMARTdesks iGroup table is located at the Hackensack Public Library in New Jersey, and specially designed for elementary school student use.

SMARTdesks Exchange Collaboration Tables, for high school, university, and collaborative office use:
modern-computer-desk-collaboration-conference-tables
This is just one example of how Exchange elements can be combined. As you can see below, collaborators can work on projects using computers or have a clear desktop depending on their needs. This flexibility is critical in collaborative classroom design.

Classroom Design fosters Collaborative Learning

Two views on collaboration . . . 
While recent media has stressed the importance of collaborative learning, particularly at the university level, according to this study (from Virginia Tech) there is little empirical evidence that it actually augments students’  critical thinking skills.
Nonetheless, some professors swear that a collaborative approach has improved their students performance. For an excellent story on one journalism professor’s movement from lecture-based to peer-to-peer learning, click here. And here is a study that focuses on computer-based collaborative learning.
Check back soon for some tips on how to make collaborative learning most effective!
What is/was your educational experience like? Do/did you participate in collaborative learning environments? 

Our New Year’s Tech Resolutions

Happy New Year from SMARTdesks! Here are our top 5 furniture and technology resolutions for the New Year.
1. Treat yourself to better ergonomics in 2014. You spend hours in front of the computer and your work shouldn’t be causing you pain. For a guide to optimizing ergonomics, click here.
2. Use the cloud to store your work and share information with collaborators, whether they be fellow educators or employees at your company. It’s safe, secure, and efficient. Here are some tips on using the cloud to the best of your advantage.
3. Find the best organizational apps for you at home and at work. Here is a list of the top 10 for entrepreneurs and startups according to venturebeat.com for entrepreneurs.
4. Keep your email inbox clear of clutter and junk. Seems like a difficult task? Check out unroll.me to get rid of email subscriptions you don’t want and consolidate the ones you do want into just one message.
5. Finally, collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. In the classroom or office, a team-based approach to learning and solving problems is invaluable. Here are some collaboration tips from Tech Republic.
Here’s to a healthy, happy, and productive 2014!

Textbook Economics, Part II: Digitizing Your Classroom

SMARTdesks can help you embrace the challenge of digitizing your classroom and take advantage of increasing online classroom resources. We offer a variety of products that can make the transition easy. Here’s a list of products that are essential to making the transition to digital textbooks as smooth as possible. 
1. The iPad FlipIT offers a lockable, flexible solution for classrooms looking to install iPads in their classroom desks and tables. Students can use the iPad in portrait and landscape mode in a securely enclosed and powered environment. iPad-flipIT-features
2. Mobile Whiteboards and SMARTboards are a must-have for the digital classroom. Teachers can highlight important learning material. Students can write on the mobile board to engage with their subject matter and collaborate. mobile-whiteboard-in-office-507
3. How to power all of these electronics without a mess of wires? The Floor + Furniture Integration Technology (FFIT) offers an easily reconfigurable solution for cable management. To see how it works, click here.
flexible-computer-floor
4. At the Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy’s Cyber Cafe, outfitted with Exchange collaboration tables, students are using technology on a daily basis for their research needs.

A student at Jack Swigert uses both digital and print resources for his research in the cyber cafe.
A student at Jack Swigert uses both digital and print resources for his research in the cyber cafe.

For some great insights into the pros and cons of digitizing libraries in the classroom, check out this interview with Nik Osborne, the Chief of Staff for the Vice President for Information Technology at Indiana University. According to Osborne, academic institutions have a role to play in the market for digital textbooks; it’s not just up to the student and book publisher to make classroom changes happen. For a look at how students use technology in and out of the classroom, check out these stats from the Educause Center for Analysis and Research.
The bottom line? The potential for innovation in the market is tremendous if institutions, publishers, and students to develop an interactive, lower-cost alternative to traditional print textbooks.
In your opinion…what are the advantages and disadvantages of a digital classroom?

Textbook Economics, Part I: Are Digital Libraries the Future of Learning?

At the Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY, print textbooks are a thing of the past. For the 2013-2014, school year, the school has converted its curriculum to digital textbooks stored on an Internet cloud. So far, according to Lisa Alfasi of Pearson Education, Stepinac is the only high school in the country to abandon print textbooks entirely.
Digital textbooks are certainly a growing trend in the education sector, and not just in private educational institutions. By 2017, all North Carolina public schools will receive funding for exclusively digital textbooks. While moving to a digital library has its perks, the question remains how every single student will gain access to a computer, either provided by the school or a “bring-your-own” policy.
But after high school, according to the 2013 College Board Trends in College Pricing Report, students budgeted approximately $1,200 for textbooks and supplies for the 2013-2014 academic year. Student debt is an enormous obstacle for many recent graduates (read this excellent NY Times feature for an in-depth look at this issue), and the cost of textbooks often is not even included in tuition and fees that can near $60,000 per year for private universities alone.
In college, due to rising prices of hard-copy college textbooks, both online resources and textbook rentals are increasing in popularity. According to this USA Today article, some students avoid purchasing textbooks altogether in an effort to defray already astronomical education costs and student loans. In the future, it seems that textbook companies will have to develop cost-effective interactive and online versions of their books.

From the Government Accountability Office Report GAO-13-368, page 6.
From the Government Accountability Office Report GAO-13-368, page 6.

From this report, we can see that in the US, printed college textbook prices have risen at a rate of 82% from 2002-2012, and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) — which measures change over time in prices for bundles of consumer goods — has risen at a comparably much slower rate, 28%.
What does this mean? The cost of print textbooks is rising at a significantly faster rate than consumer goods at large. Therefore, proportionally, textbooks are becoming more expensive more quickly when compared to other goods considered in the CPI, which include eight major groups: food and beverages, housing, apparel, transportation, medical care, education and communication, and other goods and services. At the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, Bloomberg news addressed this textbook inflation as an “untenable trajectory,” according to Watson Scott Swail, president and CEO of the Educational Policy Institute.
To improve learning experiences, like at Stepinac High School, and offer a lower-cost alternative to print, publishing companies like Pearson Education are exploring options to capitalize on 3D digital technology for interactive textbooks. For example, Pearson’s Prentice Hall “United States History” digital text for iPad costs just $14.99 on Apple iBooks…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHNk0L2agY4
…But some would say that digital textbooks cannot replace the attractiveness of a hard copy textbook, at least in early childhood education.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBksLwCKLvk
Let’s return to the Stepinac model for a moment. With technology on the rise in classrooms, students unarguably have greater access to educational materials and resources. But what’s the solution for K-12 public schools, where funding usually does not cover procurement of technology for individual students (a problem case in point for the North Carolina plan to “go digital” by 2017)? And what about private and public universities, which generally provide neither print/digital textbooks nor computers for their students? The cost of learning remains a challenge, despite the benefits of a growing trend in digital textbooks in K-12 and university learning environments.
On a lighter note, thanks to Cagle Cartoons for this one.
Digital-Textbooks-on-the-rise

In your opinion…
Do you think digital textbooks should replace all, some, or no print media in K-12 and higher education classrooms?

 
Check back tomorrow for how SMARTdesks suggests “going digital” in the classroom!
 

SMARTdesks at Gulf Coast State College: The Inside Story

At the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) of Gulf Coast State College, in Panama City, Florida, SMARTdesks furniture is changing how learning happens.

The brand-new ATC opened for fall 2013 classes, and it is fully furnished with top-of-the-line SMARTdesks products. The LEED gold certified facility is 93,500 square feet and the first green building on the Gulf Coast campus. Through the ATC, the college seeks to provide students with the opportunities, resources, and network they need to succeed in a highly competitive global marketplace. To prepare its graduates for success outside of the classroom, the ATC curriculum is incredibly diverse; classes and divisions range from sustainable design to robotics and the culinary arts. (For a the comprehensive list of fields of study, click here).

The ATC mission is to provide its students with tools to communicate their skills and strengths in the 21st century job market. Accordingly, the building and its furnishings were designed to accommodate students and faculty who both bring their own devices and use preexisting technology infrastructure. GCSC invested heavily in a “learning convergence” environment, which refers to areas where students can work or have class while collaborating or using information technologies.

SMARTdesks computer desks and furniture — including the Exchange collaboration tables, iGroup, Nesta, Pi, and conference tables for board rooms — are a major component of the building’s open-architecture floor plans. Professors at Gulf Coast have found SMARTdesks furniture’s flexibility to be one of its greatest strengths. Dr. Ariba Garmin, Director of E-learning said, “The furniture SMARTdesks provided allows staff and student to create any learning environment you want. You almost don’t see it at all because you can move it around to suit your needs.”

The Exchange and iGroup, with their reconfigurable shapes, are collaboration tables tailored to the needs of the contemporary classroom. Each computer table element can be arranged in a variety of configurations, depending on the needs of individual teachers and professors. Nesta folds away quickly to clear classroom spaces of computer desks and tables when they aren’t needed. And Pi is the ultimate collaboration tool in the classroom; students can study separately or together in circles and lines.

To complete the ATC project, SMARTdesks collaborated with both Gulf Coast and the architect to construct the “future-forward” optimized learning environment that the college was looking for. Because the breadth of the course of study is so great, SMARTdesks engaged in mass customization to fulfill all of the ATC’s furniture needs. Mass customization means that every furnishing had to fit a divergent set of needs depending on the room for which it was designed. The SMARTdesks design team collaborated for months with the project architects on the design cloud to make sure each product was optimized for its space.

To read the full story in the November issue of PUPN magazine, click here. And for an excellent article on the history of learning environments, click here for a white paper from Educause, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing higher education through the use of technology.