Embrace the New with HuddleVu: Innovative Screen Sharing and Collaboration Table Solutions from SMARTdesks

From business to education, collaboration and leadership are the cornerstones of today’s workplace. Technology, the ultimate tool for consensus building and problem solving, has shaped how we communicate ideas and develop solutions at a faster rate than ever before. From network building to our instant access to information, the culture of sharing defines how we think, work, and play.

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SMARTdesks recognizes that sharing technology in the office and university increases productivity and success across an array of collaborative work environments. Our BoostTM Collaborative Conference Table presents the all-in-one solution. The BoostTM comes outfitted with a FlipIT Lift monitor display easily visible from all sides of the table, and that neatly hides away when no longer needed. In addition, the easy-to-install HuddleVuTM HDMI video switcher enables up to four users to plug their computers in and seamlessly toggle the main display to show their individual screen at the touch of a button. For small meeting rooms and open-plan spaces alike, the BoostTM and HuddleVuTM make an elegant pair, bringing collaboration to your fingertips. With a simple installation and no software or programming required, sharing your screen has never been so easy.

Posted in Advanced Technology Centers, Classroom Technology, Collaboration, Collaborative Learning, Ergonomic Design | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Classroom Design for the Modern World

The "Lampe de Marseille" is a characteristic lighting fixture by Le Corbusier, and shows the importance of aesthetic illumination in office and classroom design.

The “Lampe de Marseille” (1949-52) is a characteristic lighting fixture by Le Corbusier, and shows the importance of aesthetic illumination in office and classroom design.

“Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and the city,” famous Swiss architect and designer Le Corbusier said in 1923. His words are still relevant today not only for the home and the city, but also for classroom design and office design.

Le Corbusier was among the pioneers who developed a relationship between interior design and architecture. Many of his furniture designs have become hallmarks of 20th century architecture history. Although he worked before the ubiquitous presence of computers and technology, his prescient view of furniture design and organization applies to the thinking behind cutting-edge classroom and office environments of the 21st century. Le Corbusier’s seamless integration of lighting fixtures, shelves, cupboards, and cabinets into their surrounding environment parallels the best contemporary classroom designs, where those elements are accompanied by comprehensive wire management systems, podiums, computer tables, and collaboration furniture.

High quality classroom design, complete with computer desks, computer tables, and collaboration tables, falls into a category that Le Corbusier called “human limb objects” — physical things that extend human capabilities and productivity.  In the world of furniture and classroom design, his words apply to tables and chairs as artwork of their space: “Certainly, works of art are tools — beautiful tools. And long live the good taste manifested by choice, subtlety, proportion, and harmony.”

The careful balance Le Corbusier articulates is one of aesthetics and functionality. It forms the core of sound classroom design and ergonomic desks and chairs. The versatility and flexibility of convertible computer tables are the key components of an advanced technology center or modern learning space. Architectural efficiency was one of the Le Corbusier’s most prominent ideologies, and it still plays a vital role in classroom and office space planning.

Here are a few tips and guiding questions to keep in mind when designing for efficiency in your own classroom.

1. Before beginning the planning phase, brainstorm all possible uses for the space. Does your classroom design need to include ample space for breakout activities and modular-shaped furniture, or are lines of computer tables for a more traditional approach most suited to your needs?

2. Computer tables and conference tables come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Which accommodates your existing technology infrastructure best, and/or what is the technology infrastructure you would like to change or develop?

3. Consider the scale of your room(s). From K-12 environments to higher education to the corporate boardroom, the size of your furniture will define your space and the activities within it.

4. Similarly, what is the maximum number of people who will need to occupy the space? How can you choose furnishings in a way that makes the room feel as open as possible?

5. Chairs should encourage both comfort and good posture. This is most easily achieved through ergonomic design, which enable people to accomplish their work with greater ease and sharper focus.

6. What limits need to be placed on the available technology for your classroom design or office design? If participants will partake in both computer based and paper-and-pencil pursuits, your computer tables must offer sufficient ergonomic design to accommodate both.

7. Aesthetic and flexible wire management is an important part of designing any modern working and learning environment. Do you need moveable outlets, or would you prefer a more static arrangement? Careful consideration of technology needs will show you where and how flexible to need your computer cable organization options to be.

8. Finally, how long do you need this classroom design or office design to last? Will it be updated in the next ten years, or sooner? Think about building a space that incorporates the timeless element of high-quality furniture materials with the flexibility to update technology, such as computer monitors and smart boards, as each new model is released, and before your next major renovation.

If you’d like more ideas for designing your space, feel free to call us at 1-800-770-7042 without cost or obligation.

 

Posted in Classroom Technology, Collaboration, Ergonomic Design, Furniture, History of the office, Office organization, Technology Integration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Designing the Classroom for Academic Honesty

Students are constantly faced with academic dishonesty. Unfortunately, although technology has become a powerful learning asset both inside and outside the classroom, it has also become an additional tool for cheating. According to major higher educational studies, an average of 75 percent of students admitted to at least one form of cheating over the course of their college career. But, this problem is not just found within academia. The same statistics ring true for high-school-aged children.

While we can put out a clarion call to scan student’s essays through online software that notates plagiarism and create several versions of tests for students to take, the need for combatting academic dishonesty is much more than that. It is about developing a culture of pride and personal integrity within students. Now, this is much easier said than done. Academic dishonesty has been around for decades; and will still be even in classrooms where teachers take action. But, that does not mean that it should go unnoticed.

Teachers and school districts can design their classrooms for success and honesty by:

  1. Changing the focus of learning

Cheating is increasingly prevalent during high risk assessment, like highly-weighted exams or essays. While testing can be argued to be an important aspect of learning, the focus across the United States needs to be realigned to focus more on the mastery of the skills. Teachers should consider methods other than traditional closed-book exams to test students on their ability to apply their knowledge, not simply demonstrate memorization. Students would be less likely and capable of cheating if the notion of learning focused on enrichment and mastery of skills rather than testing standards.

  1. Adding tools that decrease the possibility of cheating

How test takers are seated can affect the probability of cheating. While it is not possible in all schools, adding testing privacy shields between desks that clamp to the desk not only discourage cheating, but encourage focus. This will allow students to do their best on exams.

  1. Academic integrity code of ethics contracts

Many teachers have each student and a parent or guardian sign a code of ethics policy that clearly lays out the policy at the beginning of the year. This can help educate students on what constitutes as plagiarism or academic misconduct and lay a foundation for a no-tolerance enforcement. Students will be a lot less likely to attempt to cheat if the policy is very clearly spelled out.

4. Be an active teacher during testing

For teachers administering tests, testing day is not simply a time to catch up on reading. Teachers need to be actively looking for common cheating signs during test-taking situations. The more aware a teacher is, the more difficult it will be for a student to cheat; and the less likely they will.

  1. Consider school-wide devices over BYOD

In a 21st century school, technology is prevalent. If the school has a policy of providing students with individual iPads or laptops that they can use in the classroom, there is more of a possibility that the school can utilize computer monitoring software that bars students from browser windows and tracks where they go. Blended learning and the use of technology in the classroom is arguably extremely beneficial, as long as the teacher is knowledgeable of the technology.

How do you create a culture of academic honesty within your school?

Posted in Advanced Technology Centers, Classroom Technology, Collaboration, Educational policies, Furniture, Productivity, Technology Integration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Office Job Hurting your Health?

Thanksgiving is right around the corner; and if you are like us, you are eagerly counting your steps and tracking what you eat in hopes of maintaining your diet and health regimen during a holiday season known for sugary desserts, over-eating, and often inevitable weight gain. While you may be focused on your current health goals due to the time of year, we encourage you to think about you and your employees’ life-long health. The way your office is designed, whether in your home or where you work, can make or break a healthy lifestyle.

The majority of Americans spend most of their lives sitting at office desks for their professions. Our day-to-day routines require us to sit in cars to drive to work where we arrive to once again sit at a desk for 8+ hours a day, 5 days out of the week. Unfortunately, engaging in regular activities outside the home is simply not enough; especially when many people come home from work exhausted and want to sit and relax on the couch after a day filled with sitting (how ironic!).

That is why we, at SMARTdesks, believe that we need to rethink the work culture. Many companies and employees with home offices are getting rid of their comfy office chairs. The two most popular replacements are using no chair and creating a standing desk or developing the desk into a fitness station with a customized treadmill or seated bike designed with the workplace in mind.

Why make the change? Research has shown that sitting for the majority of the day is bad for your health, linking prolonged sedentary activity like sitting to being more prone to breast cancer, prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and depression.

The benefits for employers who adopt wellness programs are not only beneficial for the employees, but for the companies themselves. Not only does investing money in employee health allow for lower absenteeism and health care costs, but most companies witness increased employee satisfaction and retention.

A study released by Avner Ben-Ner, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, found that employees who use fitness desks had an increased level of quality of work, opinion of work and productivity. Instead of feeling physically exhausted or distracted by the movement, employees felt more engaged. Engaging in exercise and movement releases endorphins into your brain, which is proven to improve your mood and decrease your stress level.

This holiday season consider giving the gift of health to you or your employees. To recap, here are the top 6 reasons to make the switch:

  1. Increased productivity
  2. Increase in endorphins giving your brain a boost
  3. Improved focus
  4. Reduced back pain
  5. Increased employee satisfaction
  6. A healthier life that keeps your heart healthy!

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The Washington Post recently released the following graphic outlining the negative effects of sitting. We encourage you to share it around the office to remind coworkers to get up and move; if not, it could result in a chain of problems!

To find out more, check out these great articles, from Vox and Forbes, that served as the basis for this article.

Posted in Ergonomic Design, Furniture, Health in the Workplace, Productivity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcing our New Line: Fit-at-Office!

We live in an ever-increasingly health conscious world, with fitness bracelets and apps to track calories and weight loss with the click of a button, and SMARTdesks has now joined the trend!

We now offer a complete line of LifeSpan® treadmill desks and bike desk workstations designed for the home and office. Desk options include: electric height adjustment models that can be used collectively by multiple people in the office, manual adjustment models for 1 or 2 people and if you already own a stand-up desk we have available treadmill and bike options that work for you as well. All models include our patented step counting feature “Intelli-Step” to automatically count your steps or pedal revolutions while you walk or bike. Using the standard Bluetooth feature, you can track your progress on your Mac or PC and wirelessly sync your activity results.

Add a traditional seated desk to one or both sides letting you sit and walk or pedal throughout the day. Whether you are self-employed and working at home or part of a large corporation, SMARTdesks Fit@Office products can help you increase physical activity while you work without taking time out of your busy schedule.

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The entire SMARTdesks Fit@Office product line is designed to bring physical activity back into the workplace with safe, quiet, and reliable activity stations that are proven effective to improve your health and the health of your employees. Our products are equally well-suited for more “recreational” purposes as well — surfing Youtube and scrolling Facebook news feeds can now come with the added bonus of burning calories from the comfort of your home!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact a SMARTdesks Fit@Office product specialist at 1-800-770-7042. We can answer questions about how others are using our products, discuss the best approach for introducing activity stations in your company or help decide which model is right for you.

Posted in Ergonomic Design, Furniture, Health in the Workplace, Productivity, Technology Integration | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment