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Computer Labs are made wrong. Here’s why:

24 Jun

Attention:

Get rid of rows of computers in your school!!

How many schools have you been to where the computer labs are a room full of 20-30 computers lined up in rows around a the room?

Lots?

Me too.

This is old school thinking and it’s wrong.  A computer lab should not be row upon row of computers. There is no need. We have wifi and students have laptops of their own (or they should).

More and more forward-thinking schools are implementing laptop programs.  If this is the case, get rid of the desktops. Put them in the library or put two or three computers in each classroom.  Donate them to the office staff or the underprivileged school down the road.  Be more savvy when you invest the money into technology.

Proof:

“Results confirm the hypotheses that [students] seated in circles engage in significantly more on-task behavior than those in rows and that [student] seated in clusters engage in more on-task behavior than those in rows but less than those in circles.” http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=1985-18658-001

Yet most computer classrooms in schools still have row upon row.  The desktop computer no longer needs to be the standard.  The laptop, the tablet and the smart phone are smaller, useful technologies that need to be employed effectively.

Computer classroom designers might take a look at leaders in the field, Google’s and Facebook’s headquarters, to see what fun engaging design looks like:

GOOGLE

     

images from http://www.reactorr.com/blog/index.php/2009/08/google-land/

FACEBOOK

images from: http://freshome.com/2009/10/15/facebook-headquarters-in-california/

I wish schools I have seen or worked at looked fun like this.

Strategy:

Then what should the computer classroom of 2011 and beyond be?

  • Outdoors – Why limit the confines of classroom learning to a classroom?  Get kids outside experiencing and doing, with tablets and cellphones connected to the internet as supporting reference tools or better yet as creation tools for capturing, writing about, drawing and much more.  Take students on trips to the mall, the store, the field, behind the school, the cafeteria, and nature. Read more about outdoor classrooms here.
  • If educators have to works indoors, two words: Beanbag chairs (Swiss balls could also work– They are lightweight, movable workstations.  Put electric/data ports for charging and connectivity throughout the floor of EVERY classroom and put lots on the walls. (At least until they mass market wireless electricity)
  • Group centers and Circles can easily be formed by the teacher for collaborative physical meeting points.
  • With the new-found money in the budget, invest in specialized media centers: graphics tablets, video raid systems, video greenscreens, music stations and studios with sound editing capabilities. Computers aren’t just for using the Microsoft products.  Start thinking about how the other subjects like art, drama, phys ed, and science can be using them.
  • Fitness rooms with setups to place tablets are a must.  Make sure you have speakers to plug those iPods into.
  • iPads and iMovie are a must for drama class and why not for the sports field.
  • Wacom tablets are a new must for art class which can now also be called Digital Design class.
Administrators and educators:
Think outside the box.  Redefine the computer classroom.  Think Engaging. Think Useful. Think Fun! Invest more in your wifi.  
Good luck with the future.
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6 responses to “Computer Labs are made wrong. Here’s why:

  1. Chanon Wasusopon

    June 24, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Cool!!!!!!!!!
    I want this kind of lab in our school

     
  2. Fuji

    June 25, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Awesome! If the school could do sth like what you mentioned… But I’m graduating in four years lol… Hopes that the new building is sth more than a bunch of traditional (boring, conservative) classrooms. 😀 Looking at the pictures, working at Google/Facebook looks like fun.

     
  3. ict-design.org | Tom Johnson

    June 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I hope they make the new buildings neat too. Take some photos for me.

     
  4. stressingoutstudent

    June 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    That settles it: I’m working for Facebook 🙂

    There are a lot of things that schools could change to improve the learning environment. Things as simple as windows in classrooms. Bring on the vitamin D!

    Our school didn’t have rows. All computer labs were set up in a circle along the walls of the rooms, but everyone was facing outward, not inward, so it’s even more isolating than rows.

     

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