Aristotle and computer labs

I happened to stumble on this website.  It was not the website itself I was interested in but the picture of the computer lab.  It looks like most high school labs. It also looks like a very expensive lab. Nice computers, large monitors, nice big interactive board and a good sized room with space to move.  Is it just me or is this a terrible lab layout? When the teacher is at the front of the room, which looks like the intended location considering that big interactive board, does the teacher have a clue what the kids are doing?  Not just if some kid has lost focus but how can the teacher tell who is struggling? The teacher needs to be in the back of the room or overlooking the monitors for a couple reasons.

  1. See what kids doing on their computers – good or bad.
  2. When the teacher needs to present on the board, the kids have to turn away from their screen and focus on the teacher.  (This is huge.)

Another thing is monitors on top of computers.  To see the teacher, either in the front or back of the room, the kids are going to be trying to find a lane to look down.  Also the teacher cannot see faces, a big thing for me. If I cannot see faces I have no idea who has a clue and who does not.

If this were my room I would try to turn everything by 90 degrees.  Half the lab would face left, half would face right, with an aisle between.  Now to see the front or back of the room the kids would only have to turn 90 degrees.  While the kids were working I could pace the aisle and see every computer screen. Give me a wireless keyboard and mouse and I would be set.

Of course there are some realities involved but seems many teachers are focused on the same seating plan that has been used since Aristotle.  Oh, that reminds me, I need to find a laser pointer. I want to be able to point at something on the board without being at the board. Hot dang!  Laser point in one hand, Gyration mouse in the other. I will be a techie geeky teaching god! Now if I can just find a mini-keyboard/touchpad combo with a laser pointer built in.  Ohhh, ahhh.

Did you notice the slide rule at the base of the right whiteboard?  There is another hanging from the ceiling in one of the other pictures.  Cool. (Geek!!)

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2 Responses to “Aristotle and computer labs”

  1. alfredtwo Says:

    I have a worse layout than that one. Not my choice and the way the room is built gives me few options. But I make it work. Mostly.

    I’m not sure what the ideal computer science class room should look like. I have seen rooms with the computers around the outside walls and a bunch of desks or tables in the middle. Seems good for lecture and collaboration except when kids need to collaborate on a computer. I have a friend whose large lab has laptops on desks that have wheels. So there is a lot of moving around and group work is easy. That seems to work great for him.

  2. gflint Says:

    Our 2 labs are computers facing the wall and tables in the middle. Works well. Usually space, power outlets, board location, etc. will be the determining factors in older buildings. New buildings need to be thought out better. One of my labs is limited to 20 computers. 21 pops the circuit breaker. Building was built in 1922 and wings added in the ’50s. Two wall sockets per room on 20 amp breakers. Who ever thought tech teaching and school IT work would be so interesting.

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