Rice University Designs Cutting Edge Multi-Use Classrooms


Rice University combined the latest technology with some innovative furniture to create a beautiful new classroom at their Gardiner Symonds Digital Teaching Center. The main objective was to create a flexible environment suited for a wide variety of teaching methods.


For example, class offerings in this learning space needed to support a traditional instructor-led delivery, combined with some group collaboration. In addition, some faculty might prefer an “active learning” model, which would need to support BYOD. As you can imagine, the ability to have it all in a single classroom was very challenging. 

Computer Comforts has specialized in creating multi-use learning environments since 1987. The furniture chosen by Rice University for this project was our patented Hide-Away-AV table. Since the instructor station was positioned in the center of the classroom, under normal circumstances, many students would have their backs to the presentation. However, with this unique table, the presentation was on every student’s desktop. This feature helped satisfy the traditional instructor-led offerings.

To address the needs for group collaboration, tables were positioned back-to-back to create pods of 8 students. The “hide-away” feature allows the LCD to be lowered when not in use. When the monitor is down, you can close the lid for a flat unobstructed work surface.  

As you can see in the photos, each pod included a large wall mounted display. Crestron controls were installed into each table surface for BYOD. Students could plug their laptops into the tabletop and share the large display for group work. The University also installed several mobile whiteboards. This was a nice feature for an active learning scenario. Faculty can roam the classroom acting as a facilitator for each work group.

This 60”W two-student table sells for about $1100 each. Please visit our install page to see many more campus installations.