[Oz-teachers] Critical mass or Computer lab? (was Library for the 21 Century)
barbara.288 at bigpond.com
Thu May 28 08:23:29 EST 2009
Regarding your request for evidence of small distributed pods of computers .
since the early 90s the notion of a critical mass of computers that are
accessible when they are needed to enrich and enhance learning (as opposed
to booking a computer lab 2-3 days down the track when the moment and the
purpose are gone, perhaps forgotten) has been accepted as best practice, and
particularly supported by people like Jamie McKenzie who was head of the
Bellingham School District at the time (regarded then as the leaders in the
US in ICT development and delivery). Jamie has written many books, tours
Australia regularly (he is here now) and his website is http://fno.org -
where everything is free. He is also a strong proponent of just-in-time
learning (which small pods allow) as opposed to just-in-case (imposed by
labs and a rigid scope and sequence and timetable) and this is supported by
constructivist theory and what we are learning about how humans learn, and
there is ample evidence to support that.
Like building a new library, I would suggest that the configuration of
computers in schools would be dependent on who your clientele are and the
purpose you wish to use the hardware for, particularly in situations all
over Australia where access to broadband can be problematic let alone
wireless connectivity so 1:1 laptop opportunities are not feasible.
In the primary school I was at, designed in the early 90s and opened in 96,
we had both a lab and mini-labs in each units of four classrooms and that
school was recognised at the time as being leading edge in ICT in primary
schools in Australia. Because we were dealing with 5-11 year-olds sometimes
we taught as whole-class in the lab where we had a digital projector and
screen, other times the kids were just accessing the hardware right in their
classroom. The school went to a thin-client network in 2000 and we had a
ratio of 1:2 before many high schools had even been networked. The kids used
computers as easily as others used pen and paper and home-based computer and
Internet access was driven by what the kids were doing at school.
Our purpose at that school was probably entirely different from someone
teaching senior secondary kids to program and so the environment would be
necessarily very different.
Perhaps I was spoilt having had a visionary principal and the best of both
worlds but certainly my view and my vision was shaped more in those years
between 96-00 than at any other time in my teaching career. And I am still
COOMA NSW 2630
Together, we learn from each other.
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