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NO 32 YES 68%
learning spaces that promote engagement, foster creativity and collaboration, and support peer-based
learning and knowledge creation.
This redesigned space should be
flexible, intuitive, comfortable, and
user oriented, shifting the focus
from individuals sitting in front of
screens to a more inspired environment dedicated to teaching and
learning. Let’s revolutionize our relationship with educational technology and metaphorically blow up the
anachronistic computer lab!
—Jessica K. Parker is an assistant professor in
the School of Education at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, USA. She
is the author of Teaching Tech Savvy Kids:
Bringing Digital Media into the Classroom.
the topic, they see that it is important
knowledge. Eliminating the lab experience would dilute this message.
The ever-expanding presence of
technology reinforces our responsibility to make sure our students
graduate with the knowledge to use it
confidently wherever their lives lead
them. Our task is not to dismantle
computer labs but to make sure our
lab practices give students the support, skills, and knowledge they need,
enhancing the use of technology in
—A former classroom teacher and middle school
teacher, Tim Telep is currently a computer teacher at Bayfield Elementary School in Bayfield,
Colorado, USA. Visit his computer lab wiki at
At Beijing BISS International School, we closed our remaining computer lab last year. We are a one-to-one
school in grades 3–12 and support this with wireless
connectivity, online learning portals, web 2.0 tools,
and a customized approach to learning. Access to
information and tools to connect with others and co-create products should be available in the classroom
and ubiquitous to the needs of individual learning. A
lab approach just cannot support this and never did
support it effectively for all learners.
Julie Lindsay, E-Learning Coordinator
The Right Head Space
I have found that “going to computer lab” puts my
K– 6 students in a different frame of mind. They are
more focused on instruction. And most computer
labs are set up for instruction, with a projector,
screen or interactive whiteboard, classroom management software, and teacher station. All of these
are a big help when introducing something new.
Theresa Pierce, Staff Development
New Castle, Indiana, USA
It’s Not All About the Technology
The technology is only a small part of why the lab
concept is obsolete; far more important is the role
pedagogy plays in enhancing teaching and learning. Parking students in front of screens and away
from the rich experiences more flexible deployments can provide borders on unethical. We need
to focus on workplace readiness skills, such as
collaboration, creativity, and communication.
These require human contact—and our classrooms require designs that enable it.
John Hendron, Instructional Technology Supervisor
Richmond, Virginia, USA
Show Me the Money
To say that computer labs are obsolete is to be
ignorant of the current state of education funding
in most U.S. school districts. The physical tech lab
is a financially practical solution to obtaining full
class access to powerful computers with a reliable
power source and consistent network connection.
Michele Bond, Library Media Specialist
Stewartsville, New Jersey, USA
Beyond Time and Space
Schools should look beyond time and space to maximize access to digital resources for students. Many
schools use their computer lab budgets to implement one-to-one programs, laptop carts, or tablet
pools, where students bring technology when it is
needed. Learning is freed from constraints of the
computer lab as access becomes immediate. And
with advances in technology, any resource that would
be available in the lab is available in the classroom.
Matt Harris, Head of Learning Resources
We’re Just Not Ready
Computer labs are not obsolete, or won’t be for at
least the next seven years. The cloud market is not
mature, the school infrastructure is not equipped, and
the teachers are not prepared enough for BYOD to
Bill Pickett, CIO
Elliott City, Maryland, USA
Labs Don’t Work for Students
My experience is that students bring netbooks
and tablets both to lessons and labs. They feel more
comfortable having their own set of programs, tools,
utilities, and data. Another reason is mobility. Students can easily continue in the lab the work started
at home and then move with it. Last but not least
are new communication opportunities. Our university
is almost entirely covered by stickers with QR codes.
Desktops are useless for this technology.
Igor Bessmertny, Associate Professor
St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
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Thank you for the great ideas in L&L. The issues
you choose to debate, and each L&L issue, are
interesting, helpful, and readable. I like the idea
of different contributors and information from
many people. Keep up your good work. It makes
Susy Ogden, Retired Computer Teacher
New York, New York, USA