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The Task Furniture in Education (TFE) project – a €1.33 million Marie Curie FP7 research project –  is conceived and structured to research and develop new and innovative task furniture solutions addressing modern advances in teaching and learning, the integration of technology in the classroom and the postural implications for children and young adults in schools.

As the new Principal Investigator I am pleased to announce that TFE is now moving into the next exciting stage of it’s development, and addressing the issue of Moving Education – Enabling 21st century learning through movement.

What is Moving Education?
The goal of the ‘Moving Education’ phase of the project is to provide educators, students and relevant stakeholders with a resource that will raise awareness of the impact of movement in the learning environment, and help facilitate improvements to student’s physical and mental well-being and their academic performance.

Moving Education aims to work closely with experts, educators and students, employing a range of qualitative and quantitative design and science based methods in order to collect and curate a knowledge bank on the topic of movement and education. It involves the use of design methodology to translate research findings into tangible solutions, critical provocations and to bridge the gap between academia & industry, research & practice and designers & stakeholders.

Why is it important?
Lack of movement during daily activities has been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. According to the World Health Organisation, preliminary results of the first round of a study presented in 2010 indicate that, on average, 24% of the children aged 6-9 years old are overweight or obese. Students typically spend 15,000 hours sitting down in classrooms during their education, and European studies have found that 60% of school pupils experience back problems by the age of 16. The use of computers at home and in schools has changed the way that children and young adults learn, work and play. Yet, little emphasis has been placed on the health risks that arise from these changes in educational activity.

Movement has been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive performance. Education is changing and 21st Century Learning is based around the idea learners should develop a set of key skills and competencies that equip them for success in today’s world. The demand for appropriate learning environments and task furniture for education is now urgent and in order to promote the health and well-being of future generations, the best possible creative solutions are required.

How will the project be delivered?
The project will comprise of four stages:

Collect – undertaking a comprehensive literature and design review.
Curate – critiquing the field and selecting exemplars of best practice.
Create – producing participatory methods, design guidelines, tangible solutions and speculative prototypes.
Communicate – disseminating the findings through publications, exhibitions and a website.

Who is behind the project?
The international project team comprises of interdisciplinary researchers from academic and industry partners situated in Germany (VS and BAG), Ireland (NCAD and TCD), Portugal (ESAD) and the USA (FNI) who are using a design led approach to explore the theme of ‘Moving Education’ within the overall TFE project.


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