The simple fact is, the traditional computer lab is nearly extinct. There are still districts where computer labs are able to roam free, but the setup no longer connects students to the curriculum. If by chance your students still rely on a computer lab, let’s hope your district is laying down plans for a major update, including mobile labs or even a 1:1 program. If your school is standing by a traditional computer lab vision, I would love to know why.
Learning and creating should be taking place in your classroom, in small spaces, on comfy chairs, on a rug in the library, outside on the grass, in the comfort of the student’s home, on the bus, etc. The model has shifted away from a computer lab. Sure labs can be important for certain editing software with older students, but dragging kindergarten students into an isolating and hollow room to learn for 40-minutes and log-out until next week, is where we were in 1998. We’ve come a long way since then.
Over the years, devices and technology improvements allow for learning to take place anywhere, so why then would a school continue with a central lab location for digital learning? Faculty wouldn’t respond well to the learning constraints imposed by a computer lab, nor should the current generation of 21st century students. The lab setting is artificial and the technology infused learning opportunities should be happening naturally in the classroom with devices in student hands. This all should be happening throughout the day, not on a weekly schedule. Not all learning is linear and sometimes it’s messy. The lab doesn’t lend well to this concept. Its time is over.
This past summer, we removed our aging computer lab with 25+ Windows XP desktops, that were used sparingly. When the lab was in use, it was mostly used for printing and typing lessons. We replaced the computer lab with wireless devices like Google Chromebooks and Apple iPads capable of any time, anywhere learning, housed in mobile carts. With the new model implemented, we will never go back to a computer lab model. It is extinct. Devices are now used throughout the day when the task requires it. Stronger connections are able to be made with curriculum topics. Nothing is holding our staff back now.
If you are still trudging to a computer lab with your students in tow, ask yourself; where are the learning opportunities taking place in your classroom? Is technology infused into your lessons? With those questions answered, how can you inform decision makers to brave the new world with the technology you need…without a computer lab?
Please share your thoughts, hurdles, ideas, comments!