The Role of School Computer Labs with Online Learning
A school computer lab now has many names associated with it. Names like learning commons, learning lab or digital commons. Yet, whatever the name might be, all describe spaces that integrate technology with education. This blended learning style comes in many forms and evolves as students advance grade levels.
Depending on the school, computer labs can be designed within libraries or as independent spaces. They can serve as the hub for school technology, giving students and faculty access to printers, scanners, copiers, desktop computers and more. Or, computer labs can also be brought to classrooms with mobile carts serving as the liaison.
Online learning is a tool that can supplement in-person instruction. Computer labs provide the resources to facilitate that learning with full-size monitors, internet access, plus collaborative and individual workstations. Students can benefit from the ergonomic benefits of an adjustable desktop computer, minimizing “tech neck” that can happen by looking down at personal devices.
Computer labs are typically introduced in elementary schools, with the curriculum varying based on the grade level. Students in kindergarten may have limited knowledge of computers based on their experience at home. Many may associate computers as a source of entertainment rather than a complex learning tool. The progression through grade levels introduces students to spreadsheets, slide show presentations, formatting graphics, databases, plus so much more. In high school, students can learn coding, website development, graphic design and video editing.
The function of a computer lab can vary from school to school. It can be the primary resource for personal devices and other technology, a place for supplemental online learning or a combination of the two. As technology continues to evolve and weave its way through our lives, the computer lab must also evolve to support the needs of students and faculty.