Case Study: Computer Lab 2.0
If you are still clinging to that cable or satellite TV, you may have noticed a trend with PC commercials as of late. They show people interacting with their computers and/or tablets in fun and “cool” ways (and no, I’m not talking about spending the night watching Downton Abbey on Netflix).
One commercial that comes to mind is for Windows Surface – a new-fangled hybrid style of devices that can function alone as a tablet with a 10.1 inch screen or can be attached to a keyboard to function more like a laptop. After watching, I don’t know much about the practical advantages of such a device; but after watching the commercial, I do know that my friends and I could do choreographed dances with Surfaces on our college campus.
While commercials like these suggest a shift in what technology looks like and how students use it, college campuses’ facilities seem to contradict this mainstream image. Too many computer labs and libraries, today, do not best fit the needs of students – and they are not, obviously, conducive to dancing. Thus, the accumulation of dust on those outdated bulky Dell desktops.
Monday, Meredith mentioned a school – Bentley University – that has found a creative, yet effective, way to use a once-forgotten computer lab. Looking at before and after pictures, it’s hard to believe it’s the same space. Gone are the long tables filled to capacity with desktops. While there are still some desktops available for students to use, they are sleeker and take up less room. The resulting openings were used for more interpretive space where students can use their own devices – seated in comfy chairs or at conversational conference tables.
Every university has a computer lab. When asked to oversee the CIS Lab at Bentley, I knew that I wanted ours to become an informal place that supported learning and discovery not only about course-related topics but also about the Web and technology in general. In industry, the term “sandbox” refers to an environment for experimentation and trying new things. That’s our vision–to create an inviting, collaborative space for exploring and learning new technologies and to support student learning for our courses in ways that resonate with today’s digital students. We chose that name–the Sandbox–for our facility.
There is more to learn from this particular case. The vision to redesign this computer lab included more than just aesthetic changes and upgrades on the hardware. Fittingly enough, in the process of updating a computer lab, individuals working on the project realized the need to use technology and social media to totally re-brand the image of their computer lab and engage with their community.
- Attracted students’ attention by posting regular updates on the renovation progress via time lapse video clips.
- Directly involved students by inviting them to design a logo for the visual brand of the lab.
- Continued to connect with students after completion of the renovation by starting a blog, just for the lab.
At the University-level, there are opportunities for progress and better communication at nearly every level. Even humble computer labs.
Author: Gray Gill is our Spring Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.