Turning the computer lab into a flexible learning environment

Dive Brief:

  • St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin recently redesigned its computer labs to focus on both formal and informal use in an era of shifting and mobile technology.
  • Collaboration spaces plus technology like portable whiteboards and laptops were added for flexibility, according to Campus Technology.
  • The lab can be configured into three different modes: presentation, collaboration and open-lab mode, with furniture and technology changing to accommodate each one.

Dive Insight:

In an era of nearly ubiquitous mobile technology access, the continued relevance of the once stalwart computer lab has come under fire by those that say they've outlived their use now that students can access wi-fi on their devices across campus, use campus printers from their own devices and access expensive software via desktop virtualization. While some computer labs will always be needed to provide access to those students who may not have access to a computer otherwise, campuses can begin allotting more lab space to open-learning spaces, where flexible furniture can lead to greater collaborative learning experiences for students.

Student preferences are also changing other campus spaces, such as the brick-and-mortar bookstore. As students look for deals online, some schools have turned their bookstores into catch-all campus stores, eliminating textbook sales and putting more emphasis on hardware and merchandise sales. In these forward-thinking models, colleges partner with Amazon or another electronic retailer to provide all students with course materials before class begins, negotiating for discounts and simply folding the costs into student tuition. 

Filed Under: Higher Ed
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