Higher Education

The Nature of Learning is Changing

Today’s learning and teaching environments are undergoing significant changes that are in play simultaneously. These layered factors are causing institutions to rethink the physical environment to ensure they are prepared to appeal to tomorrow’s students and faculty. Research suggests that more than half of students selecting an institution view its environment as important to their decision; and faculty are even more convinced that the environment is one of the most influential factors in education.

For every place learning and teaching happens today, and wherever it might happen tomorrow, BE Furniture has ideas, layout considerations, and product solutions to help design spaces that support the changes impacting the future of education.

Rethinking Collaboration

Campuses are adopting more flexible group areas that encourage students to move within a space to support the collaboration they need. Spaces with fluid settings offer students choice, while providing a variety of agile collaboration experiences throughout the campus.


A makerspace serves as a gathering point for people to share resources and knowledge, network, and work on projects. These spaces offer a variety of postures, storage, and display options to support ideation and creativity.

Common Spaces:

Supporting a Variety of Needs

As student and faculty demographics shift, institutions are challenged to provide interactive and engaging environments that are broadly utilized. To make these spaces more inviting and functional, campuses are transforming traditional single-use areas into vibrant common spaces with a variety of postures, technology, and privacy accommodations.


Colleges and universities are rethinking the use of traditional campus buildings, transforming them into dynamic, multi-use spaces that provide a variety of collaboration areas. Students want options and a sense of control over the type of interactions they have throughout the day. With the increase of multiple collaboration areas, designers are integrating “sticky spaces” in new places to entice student engagement between classes.


Today, colleges and universities are supporting four generations of learners and teachers: 50% who have grown up with technology and 50% who haven’t.


35% of the skill sets required to perform a job today will be totally different in the next five years.


The U.S. Bureau of Statistics predicts in the next 20 years, 80% of all jobs will require technical skills.

Adapting for Space and Purpose

Research shows classrooms of the future must be more agile to support the new learning environment. These spaces reflect real-world settings and incorporate non-traditional designs with multiple posture and configuration options. Campus dining areas and libraries are becoming destination spaces that double as all-day meeting and learning environments. Students and faculty are taking advantage of flexible, self-governed, informal areas that promote the social dimensions of learning.

Learning Spaces

An emerging trend in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning is the incorporation of a true interdisciplinary curriculum when possible. This shift creates an environment where students are working both individually and in teams with other disciplines and learning about collaboration as they would in the real world. By configuring core functions along the perimeter, the center can be left open to facilitate maximum flexibility of furniture.

Shifting from Teaching to Learning

Students need to be prepared for jobs that don’t yet exist, to meet the needs we have not identified, using technology that has not yet been invented. To accomplish this, academia must evolve from teaching content to teaching lifelong learning skills, which requires rethinking the physical space of the classroom.

As higher education classrooms evolve to meet the needs for today’s learning, many campuses are converting traditional table-and-chair-based classrooms to flexible seating environments. These collaborative environments include furniture that can be rearranged quickly to easily suit the classroom’s purpose, while providing a spectrum of choices and postures that encourage learning.

Classroom Settings

Many campuses are exploring the integration of easy-to-move, comfortable, and flexible furniture that allows for multiple seating and standing options. These rooms are often equipped with white-board walls and sliding surfaces to write on, as well as the latest technologies for content display and sharing. These bright rooms are filled with natural light, ample power outlets, and a lot of space to move around. The result is an agile and comfortable space designed to be more like a living room or café instead of a classroom from the 1960s.

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