June 08, 2012

As new innovations in technology and virtual education gain traction with 21st century students and teachers nationwide, Herman Miller examines the role of the physical environment in learning. In a NeoCon seminar, Jeff Vredevoogd, Director of Herman Miller Education and Dr. Marti Bogart, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at North Central College will challenge the concept of the traditional classroom, shedding insight on what contributes to successful learning environments. Drawing on Herman Miller’s longitudinal Learning Spaces Research ProgramSM (LSRP), Vredevoogd and Bogart will share first hand knowledge informed by North Central’s own LSRP pilot experience.

North Central College, the Naperville, IL liberal arts school, is among the more than 25 academic institutions nationwide that have partnered with Herman Miller since 2007 through the LSRP initiative. Built around the concept of the learning studio, the initiative studies higher education learning from the perspective of students and faculty. Learning studios differ from the rigidity of traditional classrooms with maneuverable design that supports diverse learning and teaching methods. Vredevoogd and Bogart will bring the learning studio to life during their NeoCon seminar, illustrating how to assess the effectiveness of current classroom environments and apply learning studio design concepts to existing academic spaces.

Over the course of North Central College’s pilot (and each LSRP project), Herman Miller worked with campus partners to measure and gather results about how the space was being used. An initial analysis focusing on nearly 3,000 students at 12 of the participating pilot schools, including North Central College, showed that the primary effect of the learning studio implementation was an 18 percent increase in students who felt positively about their learning environment.

“The physical space frames the entire learning experience,” said Vredevoogd. “Technology and teaching methods are ever-evolving, but if a classroom doesn’t enhance the student experience by enabling integrated learning with these new tools, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated the technology is. The goal of the LSRP program is to create physical spaces that support these new learning approaches, while gathering feedback and keeping an eye towards adjustments for the future.”

Learning Studio Lessons at NeoCon
During their NeoCon presentation, Vredevoogd and Bogart will reveal additional findings and provide helpful assessment metrics and action plans for those interested in exploring learning spaces within their own schools. Participants will learn tips and tricks for creating environments that:

  • Encourage Engagement: Discover how to empower students to ask questions, and help them feel more comfortable presenting to their peers
  • Promote Progressive Teaching Methods: Learn to untether instructors from the front of the room in environments that allow them to freely circulate and stray from traditional methods like lectures in favor of group work, collaboration and demonstrations
  • Foster Academic Enthusiasm: Rescue upperclassmen from the academic burnout and boredom associated with classrooms; learn why most second-year students and above prefer learning studios for formal instruction
  • Bridge to the Professional World: See how students interact in spaces that mirror office environments, as learning studios support the collaboration and engagement vital to post-graduation success

The Learning Spaces Research Program allows partner institutions to pilot the design concept on a small scale and perfect the solution before committing to a broad campus-wide rollout. These institutions can see the data–a key factor used to determine future implementation opportunities. Additional schools are set to begin pilot programs throughout 2012.

To learn more about the LSRP, please attend the NeoCon seminar:
What: “Learning Spaces Research Programs: Assessing the Effectiveness of Learning Spaces”
When: Tuesday, June 12 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM CST
Where: Room 7-A, located on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart
Session Code: T266
For a more in-depth review of the results, please contact: herman_miller_education@hermanmiller.com

About Herman Miller, Inc.
Herman Miller works for a better world around you—with inventive designs, technologies and related services that improve the human experience wherever people work, heal, learn, and live. Its curiosity, ingenuity, and design excellence create award-winning products and services, resulting in more than $1.6 billion in revenue in fiscal 2011. Innovative business practices and a commitment to social responsibility have also established Herman Miller as a recognized global company. In 2011, Herman Miller again received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s top rating in its annual Corporate Equality Index and was also cited by FORTUNE as the “Most Admired” company in the contract furniture industry. Herman Miller trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol MLHR.