When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, colleges and universities around the world had to adapt quickly to the new distance learning environment.
For Tulane University and countless others, this included training in distance learning tools, revamping the curriculum, and most importantly, modifying physical facilities for the inevitable return of students and faculty on the campus.
Mike Griffith, the Director of Innovative Learning at Tulane, had countless meetings with academic leaders about what would be required in terms of technology to adapt to what ultimately became a model of blended learning.
That summer, the university came up with what Griffith calls a âblended learning classroomâ model that includes three levels of rooms: classrooms with general swimming pools with large capacity seats, classrooms with mid-size pool and smaller spaces like performance studios, labs, and smaller classrooms.
A hybrid educational solution … and fast
To create a unified experience for faculty and students, the university envisioned some sort of mobile solution that could be transported between 180 learning spaces. Tulane has partnered with Louisiana-based Interstate Electronic Systems to help design the technology for each part.
With these new technological demands, the university had unique furniture requirements, and they needed them quickly.
So IES and Tulane University turned to Marshall Furniture, a manufacturer of custom-made presentation and technology furniture who specializes in higher education.
The company has long been the supplier of tailor-made furniture for university instructors, for 20 years already.
Historically, these products have included premium wood designs for classrooms that have been upgraded to allow for a wheelchair accessible teaching station.
This time, however, Tulane needed a suite of new movable furniture. The Marshall team got to work, presented IES and Tulane with a few different options given the time constraints and requirements, and came up with a splashback / rack cabinet solution.
The furniture serves as protection and storage of equipment, and makeshift desks for teachers.
According to Toby Garrett, a systems specialist at the integration company, it boiled down to cameras and speakers on tripods and hand-held microphones, as well as other devices strategically placed around those rooms.
âThey had to be quick, deployable solutions for really interesting spaces,â says Garrett. “We were in places like ceramic studios and glassblowing studios – places that are not very user-friendly for this equipment.”
The credenza design allowed IES to install mounted touchscreen monitors for classroom presentation purposes, Garrett added.
Read more : Marshall Furniture celebrates its 35th anniversary
What supply chain problems?
While everyone faced issues with product availability during this rush to transform educational institutions, Marshall stood out from the crowd with lightning-fast service, Garrett said.
âMarshall was actually one of the first manufacturing partners to really step in and get us what we needed faster than a lot of other suppliers,â says Garret. “It was very essential, because you can’t put the systems together without (the furniture).”
According to Ariel Blaha, sales manager at Marshall Furniture, this case highlights the company’s rapid delivery capabilities, as the credenzas were made and shipped within weeks. For most other manufacturers in today’s economic climate where supply chain issues are rampant, this is largely unheard of.
âIt’s important for cases like this where there may be a budget or schedule that the custom line isn’t going to quite fit into,â she says.
The company has grown its line of fast delivery products over the past decade for exactly these use cases and has leveraged the portfolio to add more options including splashbacks, desks, conference tables. , workstations, wheelchair accessible furniture, etc.
The line has also expanded to more robust solutions for use cases where budgets are not an issue.
Blaha noted that the company has supplied Tulane with other products it calls a “marriage of the custom line and the fast shipping line.”
âWe can take features from the custom range and mix them with materials from the quick delivery range and come up with a solution that kind of sits between those two worlds to meet all of those requirements,â says Blaha. âIt’s important to have something to offer to all of our customers.
Fast service without sacrificing quality
As an integrator who has worked with Marshall Furniture for a long time, Garrett said the durability of the company’s products is unmatched. For proof, look no further than Tulane, where the credenzas are constantly turned around the New Orleans campus.
âThese things can take a hit, but they hold up surprisingly very well,â said Garret.
With a quick turnaround time for the required project, Griffith and the team at Tulane were not only looking for something that could be made and shipped in a matter of weeks, but also something that was durable, would match the furniture they already had. and would provide past pandemic use cases.
âThat’s really why we trusted Marshall as a partner on this project,â Griffith says. âWe have a long-standing relationship, the product quality has always been exemplary and we were trying to do this project in a way that we didn’t buy disposable products. “
Now, these fast-delivery COVID-era lecterns “find permanent homes” throughout the university.
âThey’ve just been part of our regular deployment strategy, which is fantastic,â Griffith says.