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co-founder of feynlabs

good points ..

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good article and addressing an issue not much discussed. A couple more points to add a) The word 'computer' is now not synonymous with a PC - ex the Raspberry Pi is an interesting device for teaching computing ( b) Labs - if not properly thought out - can break the flow between thinking and doing kind rgds Ajit

Technology Coordinator

Schools must adapt as

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Schools must adapt as technology changes. As technology becomes more mobile, schools should move to providing mobile devices or allowing students to bring their own. (I remember a presenter at an ed tech conference humorously noting that bowling alleys acquired overhead projectors 25 years before schools did!)

As a tech integrator, I don't want to be "teaching technology" as isolated skills in the computer lab. But without student laptops or up to date equipment in classrooms - and in many schools that's the reality - the only place to integrate is in the computer lab. So the next best thing is to work collaboratively with teachers. Instead of sending her students to the lab while she has a prep, the teacher stays in the computer lab, teaching and supporting the content while I teach and support technology use through that content. An added benefit is that the teacher learns how to use the technology along with her students.

Superintendent of Climax Springs R-IV, Missouri

We are a very small rural

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We are a very small rural district with approximately 120 students in grades 7-12. The issue for us is how to use technology effectively. Every student 7-12 has a netbook and we area wireless school. Many of our textbooks are web based and we partner with a local community college in order to be able to have qualified juniors/seniors graduate with an AA in addition to their HS diploma. Much of the coursework is done online. While the netbooks work very well in many situations, their main advantage is that they are portable. We offer 'clusters' wherein students are in a lab setting all taking different courses. For example, in one cluster may be ten students each of them involved in a different dual credit course. We have a certified tech person to help them through the issues that arise. For this type of educational setting, we don't need portability therefore CPU's are the best choice. We have successfully combined portable devices with labs. The determining factor for us is what is the best method for providing instruction to students. It should not be an 'either or' issue. Our next step is to digitalize our library and purchase Kindle Fire's so rather than checking out a book, the student will be able to check out the whole library.

I think it's interesting that

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I think it's interesting that there is still a dialogue in education about the pros and cons of a technology organization (computer labs) that is rapidly becoming outdated. I agree that there are clear pros and cons to labs in schools, but I think what education needs to do, and unfortunately has by and large failed to do is think to the future of technology in schools, and instead has stayed in the past.

It seems to me that more and more kids have gadgets like iPods, eReaders, smartphones, etc. and are moving away from the traditional desktop and even now more common laptop computer. While there is still a need in many districts that work with underprivileged children for access to technology (and the Internet), I feel strongly that rather than talking about how a lab ideally should be set up we need to be thinking about and imagining what our nation's students are going to need in 3-5 years in terms of technology. I'm not trying to suggest that every school in the country needs to go out and get iPads, but I feel as educators we are constantly missing the mark because we think about what our kids need now, rather than years from now. This kind of thinking inherently requires a bit of "fortune telling" in terms of what will be mainstream technology-wise in our society, but the problem is by and large we aren't thinking in this way. As a result, we spend thousands of dollars on hardware and infrastructure that quickly becomes outdated and whose initial benefits to learning and teaching wean.

I don't mean to suggest that your post about computer lab pros and cons is antiquated by any means; I think computer labs are still important for many schools and students who don't have frequent technological or Internet access, but even that fact is changing rapidly. But as more and more companies like OLPC, Google, Samsung, etc. build inexpensive, small, and flexible machines that do what students and faculty need - without all the bells and whistles - I wonder what this means for the modern computer lab. What I question is why more schools - who recognize the growing importance in technological literacy, skills, etc. - aren't thinking about what the next generation "computer lab" will look like. How will students interact with one another? How will they learn? What will be possible then that isn't now, but will be commonplace in the future?

I believe thinking more to the future in the long run will be better for our schools, better for their budgets, but most importantly better for our students.

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