Are the Digital Natives restless?

Teknion Corporation today announced the release of a new research paper on trends in higher learning. Teknion enlisted the thought leadership of the global design firm Gensler.

“On today’s campus, students are plugged into iPods, are texting friends on smartphones, and lugging a laptop or tablet to a study group rather than a spiral notebook and No. 2 pencil,” says Steve Delfino, VP, Corporate Marketing & Product Management, Teknion. “Students register for classes online, watch video lectures while lounging and search the Internet for data. Teachers are adjusting their methods for students who grew up in a technology-rich world that has perhaps trained them to absorb and process information differently. Technology is once again driving change. We realize that what’s happening on campus is a precursor to how today’s ‘Digital Natives’ will perform at work, and how the workplace will likely evolve.”

Teknion’s higher-learning research reveals that educational institutions are revisiting their mission and rethinking how they can leverage technology and real estate to best serve teachers and students. The study addresses many basic questions, such as: What do we know about today’s Digital Native student? How is technology changing the way students learn and teachers teach? What are the potential benefits – and limitations – of technology? How do you design space to serve a 21st-century student body, faculty and curriculum? In the world of business, how do we design a workplace that will attract these Digital Natives or Generation Z and make the most of their talents and skills?

The research also reveals that there is no single answer to designing a building or furnishing a room that will promote optimal learning in its various forms: lecture, teamwork, tutoring, research, solo study and so forth.

“Classrooms must support various pedagogies and different types of learning,” says Charrisse Johnston, project manager and interior designer at Gensler. “Learning is not limited to an experience that takes place in classrooms, library or lecture hall. It happens in the ‘in-between’ spaces – hallways, courtyards and campus walkways. Learning occurs in gathering places like cafes, cafeterias, student lounges and almost anywhere else one can find a seat or a surface to serve as a table. Designing campuses to take advantage of the creative learning that takes place in these in-between spaces can help colleges and universities support a more inclusive and engaging education, in which students and educators participate.”

Says Delfino, “The collaborative mindset that characterizes the modern workplace resonates in the academic setting as well. The modern workplace – with its emphasis on flexibility, sustainability and communication technologies – is a mirror of this evolving academic setting. Technology makes it possible to work and learn at a distance, to access information or interact with others far from the classroom. Yet the sense of community, of shared experience and purpose, that both office and campus can provide has no real substitute. The research actually inspired our new full line of Thesis learning and library tables, which was designed with the intent of supporting today’s evolving learning trends.”

For more information on Teknion’s higher learning initiatives – and to read the research paper and learn about the new Thesis line – visit


Teknion creates furniture that connects people, technology and spaces. We hold to a simple yet powerful principle: design does matter. Teknion offices and facilities are located in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., India, Russia and Malaysia. Clients are served through a network of authorized dealers worldwide. Through our 30 years of dedication to innovative and sustainable design, we offer a diverse portfolio of award-winning office systems, office furniture, ergonomic accessories and architectural products.
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