Let me preface this by saying: 1) In a perfect world every school would have both a computer lab and computers in their classrooms. 2) If you have an innovative teacher like Alice Mercer in your computer lab I would surely keep it open.
But if you have a school with a computer lab like this, it might be time to start rethinking the whole lab concept:
A) The computer lab is relatively shiny and new but the computers in the classroom are non-existant or barely working. B) The computer lab is not staffed or staffed by a person without teaching credentials C) Getting the computer lab unlocked is a hassle and sometimes the computers aren’t working when you get in there.
We want our schools to have both school libraries and classroom libraries. We should want the same for our technology resources…every classroom should have a working computer AND a working lab. If we can only have one or the other, let’s put the computers in the classrooms because:
- Teachers have constant access to their classroom computers and can make sure that any particular technology is working in advance of any lesson. (It’s happened to me, you have a web site you want the students to visit, you even preload it on 20 computers, but when you get to the lab and everyone starts it up at once, it doesn’t work. In the classroom, you can be better prepared for these disasters).
- Computers in the classroom can become more of a part of daily teaching and learning life. Technology in real life is no longer something we go to a special place to use. It’s all around us in “real life” and the classroom is “real life” so it should resemble real life, no?
- Computers don’t get any younger. A computer’s relevant life is about 3-5 years. You get much more value out of having those computers in daily use than in shutting them in a lab for occasional use.
- We can reframe our PR materials to say we have state of the art computers in every classroom instead of we have a brand new computer lab.
Of course, even my definition of computer in this post is already dated. iPods and iPads are putting cheaper mobile computers in the hands of students all the time. Nevertheless, many of us are still scrambling to put together a working computer for our rooms. Let’s put our limited resources in the hands of teachers and students and not lock them away like Rapunzel in her tower, keeping them safe but out of use.