In this week’s transforming K12 learning spaces vlog we will continue to explore how learning space design affects student success, but this week we will put the emphasis on design elements such as color and texture.

How the elements in our environment affect us emotionally is referred to as “sensory ergonomics,” and it’s just as important as physical comfort.

Factors such as color and texture can affect a student’s mood significantly, and decades of research suggest this can influence a student’s ability to focus or succeed.

Next week’s topic is about Redesigning School Libraries. Mark will discuss how to transform traditional school libraries into vibrant 21st century learning centers.

Thank you for joining this week and as always, thank you for supporting Paragon Furniture.

There are so many classroom seating options out on the market today – recognizing what to look for will certainly help narrow the search.

This week Mark Hubbard discusses what to look for in K12 student seating.

Thank you for watching.

Although technology is not essential for active learning, it can be a powerful tool to support student-driven learning. If students have access to a device with Internet connectivity, they can do independent research and use rich applications for creating and collaborating.

If you are using technology to support active learning in your schools, here are five key considerations:


How will you ensure that all students have equitable access to technology devices for learning? For instance, if you allow students to use their own personal laptops, tablets, and cell phones in class through a “bring your own device” policy, how will you make sure that students who don’t have their own personal device can participate? You might pair students who don’t have a device with someone who does and require them to share, for example—or keep a supply of school-owned devices on hand for them to borrow.

Digital citizenship

Students using digital devices in class must be taught how to use the devices safely and responsibly. Mike Ribble, an author and IT director for a public school district in Kansas, says digital citizenship education should teach students how to use technology to search for, evaluate, and curate information; how to act appropriately online; how to use technology in an ethical manner, such as not hacking into other peoples’ information, downloading music illegally, plagiarizing, sending spam, or stealing someone’s identify; and how to safeguard their privacy and IT security, among other lessons.


Speaking of IT security, K-12 leaders must consider how they will keep their school networks secure from viruses, phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and other online threats. Security measures should include keeping all operating systems up to date; regularly applying security patches; using a multilayered approach to IT security that includes firewalls, web filtering, antivirus protection, and advanced threat detection; and educating staff as well as students about security best practices.


Before investing in devices for your students, make sure you upgrade your network infrastructure so that it can handle all the traffic. Students and staff should be able to get online without a hitch, or else they will become frustrated, give up, and not use their devices for learning. The State Educational Technology Directors Associationrecommends that schools have at least 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) of bandwidth for every 1,000 students and staff members to enable rich, transformative teaching and learning experiences. Plan for more bandwidth than you think you need, however, because network demands increase exponentially as students do more bandwidth-intensive work.


If students are using digital devices to support self-directed learning, they need easy access to power supplies throughout the day so they can recharge their devices as necessary. A survey conducted by NewBay Media reveals that access to power often is a problem for schools: Eighty percent of K-12 leaders said they don’t have enough power to meet the technology needs of their staff and students, 77 percent said power has come up as an issue or complaint from faculty, and 58 percent said a lack of power affects students’ ability to use technology effectively in class.

Solutions to this problem include mobile device charging stations or even flexible power supplies embedded seamlessly within classroom furniture, providing an always-available power source so students can charge their devices while they work. Paragon sells classroom furniture with embedded power supplies to ensure that learning can continue uninterrupted.

When we think of learning environments, we often think of how the desks and tables in a classroom are configured. That’s an important consideration, but it’s not the only factor affecting student success. How the design of these items makes users feel emotionally also is critical—and this can have a big impact on achievement.

How students respond emotionally to the sensory input they get from desks, chairs, and other elements in their environment is just as important as their physical comfort. Factors such as color and texture can affect a student’s mood significantly, and decades of research suggests this can influence a student’s ability to focus or succeed—for better or for worse.
Researchers Kristi S. Gaines and Zane D. Curry from Texas Tech University summarized a number of studies about the effects of color on students’ emotions and academic performance in a 2011 paper titled “The Effects of Color on Learning and Behavior.”
“Color is a powerful design element that produces profound psychological and physiological reactions,” they wrote. “Studies have shown a relationship between color preferences, emotions, and academic performance in students.”
However, because color affects different types of students in different ways, it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions about which colors are best for which types of learning environments, Gaines and Curry wrote.
Similarly, the fabrics and materials that a piece of furniture is made from also play an important role in whether students are comfortable both physically and emotionally—and therefore whether they are learning to their full potential.
“There are a lot of children coming to school who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or special needs, and many of them can be heavily affected by the different textures that are in classrooms,” says elementary school teacher Erin Klein, who studied interior design in college before entering the classroom.
Because children react to different colors or textures in different ways, it’s important for schools to offer furniture with a wide variety of colors and textures.
“Just like when we personalize instruction—the more ways we teach, the more students we reach—the more furniture options we have, the more accommodating we will be to our students,” Klein notes.