Education Projects

Education Projects

Active Learning Classrooms

The Plan

A high school in Indiana contacted Lincoln Office to help with classroom redesign. Understanding the school’s need to implement a new strategy for learning, Lincoln Office brought in a consultant from Steelcase Education to conduct an Active Learning Workshop. Lincoln Office worked closely with the Steelcase Education Consultant and a committee at the high school to create spaces that would improve student engagement.

Designed to Inspire Innovative Learning and Engagement

In order to meet the learning needs of students, a new thought process was needed. Active learning begins with a learning objective – how do we want students to learn? By using multiple teaching methods, such as lecture, small group discussions, team and individual study, students and teachers have discovered an opportunity for learning in different ways. Changing how the classroom is arranged during the class period keeps students’ attention focused on learning. Educators can leverage several tools and technology, giving students multiple ways to process information – both analog and digital. The new classroom provides both students and teachers the ability to move around the room and engage with one another.

Discovering the Learning Needs

Early in the process, Lincoln Office interviewed teachers who would participate in the project, asking about concerns observed in their classrooms. The top concerns were backpacks in the aisle, storage for supplies and student desk worksurfaces.

In spring 2015, the Steelcase Education Consultant conducted a workshop for teachers that discussed active learning strategies and how the classroom environment can affect student learning. In addition to the workshop, mock classroom furniture was set up at the school for review. Following the review and discussion of Active Learning Strategies, the team decided to redesign five classrooms.

New classroom furniture was installed in the fall 2015. Steelcase Education surveyed teachers and students before and after the classroom furniture was installed. After about six weeks of use, they were asked questions about the old classroom vs. the new classroom, including how the new classroom furniture was being used. Concerns about the old classroom included it was too time-consuming to move classroom furniture for group projects and it was difficult to move within the classroom to help students. After the new classroom furniture was installed, teachers found a dramatic increase in being able to move through the space to work with students (aisles were clear), being able to see information displayed on whiteboards, having easy access to tools (whiteboards, markers, etc.), seeing and connecting with students throughout classroom activities and enabling students to work together on projects. Teachers continued to learn how they might change teaching methods since classroom furniture could be easily moved.

Student surveys echoed the teachers’ – with the top complaints about the old classroom being it was difficult to work together and they were unable to get to know everyone. After the installation of new classroom furniture, students found it easier to move around the space to work with other students on projects, and students were able to see each other when speaking. Students became more engaged and teachers discovered that students were taking more social risks because they could easily move in and out of groups. The results of the instructor and student surveys, taken before and after new classroom furniture was installed, are shown in the bar graphs below.

Classroom Design

After conducting the Active Learning Workshop and providing furniture samples for educators to review, Lincoln Office, Steelcase Education and the project team determined the node classroom chair and Verb tables would best meet the learning needs of the students.

The node chair offers mobility, storage for backpacks and a large writing surface, and the node’s mobility to move easily supports different teaching methods – lecture, large group discussion and small group discussion. It is easier for students to connect with one another by moving into learning teams to work on an assignment. When used together, node chairs and Verb tables can accommodate different learning methods: group discussion in one part of the space and individual work in another.


Goodwill Commons Case Study

Goodwill of Central Illinois recently opened Goodwill Commons — a repurposed store, located at 2319 E. War Memorial Drive in Peoria — that allowed the non-profit, community-based organization to expand its educational and social services to even more people in Central Illinois.

This project furthers Goodwill’s mission of supporting individuals and families who are working to better their lives. That’s why the Lincoln Office team was delighted to work on the redesign of Goodwill Commons, furthering our own mission — to support the personal and professional growth of employees and the communities where we live and work. As the words on the Goodwill Commons lobby wall state, this is a “place for learning, trying, improving, growing, courage, hope, community and you.”

The Goal

To repurpose the dated 30,000 sq. ft. building.

The Plan

Create a floor plan that is bright, open, flexible and welcoming to individuals coming to Goodwill, helping them change their lives for the better.

In the new Welcome Center, there is ample space for visitors and clients to meet, wait or socialize while an open ceiling adds interest to the space. The flooring reflects the movement of the river, visible from the lobby.

Steelcase Move™ chairs on casters with upholstered seats were used for maximum comfort and durability, pulled up to multipurpose Akira tables for learning. The tables are powered for easy computer access. Neutral colors were used so clients can concentrate on their training.

Lincoln Office used Privacy Wall to integrate architecture, furniture and technology at Goodwill. Privacy Wall is a reconfigurable and reusable product. Goodwill plans to grow, and Privacy Wall will continue to meet their space needs. It brings power and data to the offices and meeting rooms by connecting to the building’s power. A small kit of parts-panel, ceiling track, feature strips and base trim makes it easy to manage.

Designed for the Community

Goodwill wanted to repurpose their existing building — not tear it down. In order to expand services to Central Illinois, Goodwill needed more classrooms and computer labs, spaces for Veterans’ Services and Youth Mentoring. These spaces needed to be fun, vibrant and welcoming so participants will feel comfortable coming to Goodwill. This repurposing allows Goodwill to expand its reach and mission, and we hope it becomes a part of many people’s lives — now and for years to come.

Helping veterans reintegrate into society — finding housing, employment and other support services — is key to Goodwill’s mission to promote self-sufficiency. This newly-designed room includes a place for veterans to meet, socialize and use computers fortraining. Roundtables with Steelcase Move™ chairsencourage interaction among veterans. The Turnstone Jenny® Lounge chairs provide a comfortable place to meet and have meaningful conversations. With flexibility in mind, there are two table heights — one for meetings, and another for socializing or dining.

Good Guides, Good Vibes

The Good Guides Youth Mentoring program, for ages 12-17, needed its own space, too! This combination study and lounge area has bright, vibrant and fun colors to keep the space interesting while providing room for students and their mentors.

The Lincoln Office team spent time with Goodwill staff reviewing their plans, assessing their needs for the space and beginning the process of putting together the most functional, yet aesthetically pleasing space possible. Each department’s operation was discussed so the best furniture, floor covering and layout were achieved, always considering future growth.

Collaboration Areas for Staff

Anticipating a growth in services, Goodwill staff needed workstations and meeting spaces to help get work done. Informal meeting spaces were created near workstations, and several formal meeting rooms give the option for private meetings.

The break room has two different table heights to accommodate staff and visitors and allow for socializing while eating. All plastic Steelcase Move™ chairs are easy to keep clean, and the bright colors and geometric floor design keep the area fun and inspiring.

Two thirds of the renovated building is dedicated to Goodwill’s free services, which include job training and career services for veterans, individuals and families who are working to better their lives. Goodwill Commons features five classrooms, a veterans’ service center and a youth service center, all with state-of-the-art technology. Several conference rooms are also available to other social service agencies and Goodwill partners for meeting space. A year ago, Goodwill could only serve 16 program participants at any one time — now they can serve 100-plus.

Methodist College

Student Commons

For the first time in its history, Methodist College has its own home and the room to expand to meet the growing needs of healthcare education. The College has a vision to be the premiere college of choice for excellence in nursing and health sciences education within Central Illinois. This vision is becoming a reality with the opening of the new campus. The main building houses faculty and staff offices, classrooms, labs, a simulation center, a café and a student commons. Student housing is located behind the main building.

Planning accelerated in 2014 when Methodist College purchased an empty box store for the purpose of turning it into a college campus. In an interview with Peoria Journal Star, Dr. Kimberly Johnston, College President, stated, “We just literally ran out of room.” The previous college building, a former hotel in downtown Peoria, was bursting at the seams. With the old building, the College had no expansion room for new programs or additional students.

The new building (126,000 sq. ft.) offers the opportunity to expand programs and grow as the healthcare profession changes. It gives Methodist College a place to call home, a place to teach future healthcare professionals, a place for students and faculty to meet, a place for faculty to collaborate, a place for research. The new building will allow the College to recruit new students as programs grow and to recruit and retain faculty who now have a state-of-the-art teaching facility.

Developing a Gathering Place

Lincoln Office and Methodist College have had a long-standing relationship, so when it was time to begin space planning and furniture selection for the new building, the College contacted Lincoln Office. Anchoring the main building is the Student Commons – a large space, located between the library and café. The goal was to ensure that the Commons became the hub of college life at Methodist College. Lounge chairs, tables and chairs, and standing height tables and stools create settings for meeting, studying, socializing and collaborating. It is a space that is welcoming and “home-like” with its vibrant colors and comfortable chairs – a gathering place.

Creating a Better Learning Environment

The academic offices are adjacent to one another in the building – separating academics from administration. The shared offices provide faculty privacy for focused work. A small table is in the office to enhance collaboration with colleagues and students.

The new classrooms use furniture that is flexible and movable. This encourages student collaboration and makes moving into groups easy. Chairs and tables are on casters and can be moved as needed by each class.

The node chair offers mobility, storage for backpacks and a large writing surface. Due to the node’s mobility, it can easily move to support different teaching methods – lecture, large group discussion and small group discussion. It is easy for students to connect with one another by moving into learning teams to work on projects.

Verb tables are also easily moved into multiple configurations for different classes. Whiteboards are used with the tables to share ideas and display information.

Lincoln Office worked with Methodist College to plan the layout of the offices, classrooms and the Student Commons to ensure these spaces met the needs of the College.

Achieving Results

Methodist College now has a campus that will make it the premiere college of choice for excellence in nursing and health sciences education.

“Working with Lincoln Office was a very positive experience. They were very supportive throughout the process – starting with discussing objectives and making a blueprint that identified cutting-edge workstations and the appropriate furniture and office supplies. They looked at what we already had and what we would need and mapped everything out for us in the blueprint. The Commons is one of the most popular areas. We are really pleased with the results. Lincoln Office helped us create a versatile educational space that offers our students a more flexible learning environment. We really enjoyed working with Lincoln Office. Now, we believe the new environment and office products have helped to enhance our students’ learning experience.”

– Kimberly Johnston, Ed.D., Methodist College President