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Lab-less is good


With the implementation of 1:1 devices in our secondary schools and plunking lots and lots of Chromebooks and iPads into our elementaries, traditional building computer labs may soon be a thing of the past in our district. I can't say I am sorry to see them go.

From the first Apple II labs placed in the unused classroom at the end of the hall back in the 80s, labs have always given the message: "Computers are not a real part of education. They are a special event. They are an extra. They are for reward. They are mysterious." Labs ran software for drill and practice and gaming. Computers usually directed the student rather than the student directing the computer.

Computer labs came with rules. Lots of rules. Computer labs have recently been associated more with testing than with learning. Computer labs often signaled prescribed lessons in reading or math and death by boredom. One kid; one computer. Everyone facing forward - toward the screen. Add headphones please to complete the isolation.

The lab was outside the classroom. "Real learning" was the teacher lecturing and reading the textbook and completing worksheets. Computers in the classroom were a distraction, competition to the whole group activity.

Happily, with 1:1 programs and with the addition of classroom sets of student computers, the poor messages the labs send is fading. Yes, some labs will remain in the media centers, business classrooms, and media production classes - any place where there is a need for pumped up computing power. But these tend to be what I call "co-lab-orative" environments, where groups use the computer workstation to create using a variety of media.

So, good-bye labs and good riddance. I am sure this is how readers felt when the monks stopped chaining books to the desks in the library.

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Reader Comments (4)

Yes its time to move on from Computer Labs and create media labs and device centers. We also need charging stations for students and staff, sadly many teacher struggle with this concept and are still digitally illiterate.

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony D.

When one of our office staff took a new family for a building tour and referred to the lab closest to the library as the "testing lab" , I knew it was time for all of us to rethink how we can repurpose this space (I have a thousand ideas!).

July 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnn Schuster

Hi Anthony,

You make a valid observation that some teachers would prefer the technology remain separate from the classroom.


Hi Ann,

Be sure to share how you will re-purpose the spaces!


July 21, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Not sure I agree with you. Classroom Teachers are so overwhelmed as is now that adding another item to their plate really isn't fair. If anything, there needs to be an increase in Tech Teachers and student access. We have not closed the Digital Divide and have a long way to go.

September 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne Tecza

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