Planning for Flexibility, Not Obsolescence   Section 2 of 4

If you were going to put in twelve computers in a typical classroom, with one computer for every two kids, there wouldnít be any desks left for the students.† So there is a space limitation with hardwired computers in terms of how many you can put into a Central Computer Area Plan classroom.† Accordingly, innovations were made.
      Figure 2 shows an example from an elementary school.† This example was identified in the studies performed at our research center at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.† Susan Steubing was the director of that study.† In this school, they took all of the computers from four classrooms and concentrated them into a central space.† This provided enough computers that an entire class could work together with the technology with two students sharing a station.† This sharing provided one way of working.†
       What isnít recognized is that in this marvelous design the teachers are team teaching.† They have to plan to co-use a limited resource and the ability to do cooperative learning with small teams of students working together isnít facilitated by this configuration.† At a given point in time, this was the ideal solution that teachers, administration, everyone from that school district wanted.†
       But it only had a potential life of maybe two and a half years of applicability and it served the needs very well for that two and a half-year period of time.† But it is not going to serve the schoolís needs in the future.††

       Lecture Style LabFigure 3 shows an example from a high school that has computers around the perimeter and all of the students are sitting in the middle so you have the conventional lecture approach for education.† The students have the option to work individually at their own computer workstation or as a class in a lecture format. 
       When we take a look at the modes of learning, from the teacher being the source of information, to the teacher being the coach, the student learning from their peers in a cooperative educational program, to student learning individually using educational television and other sources of information, it becomes evident that there are many ways by which you can learn.
       This model is one that called out a very specific way by which the teachers, students and tools could work together.† Again, itís very limited in the number of ways by which it could work, because the computers are all hardwired around the classroom.†
       Figure 4 is an example, also one Susan Stuebingís marvelous case study schools, based on the cooperative learning process from Port Hueneme, California.† There are clusters where six students work together as a team.† All of the students can see through to the teacherís station as well as being able to work as teams of six.† And so you have a classroom that is broken up into five clusters of six students which is a marvelous solution to a problem stated.†
       In the future will all education materials for cooperative learning be created for groups of six?† Is that the only way that youíre going to try and work with students in terms of providing information thatís going to be appropriate?† Again, with limited resources, a lot of money has been spent because the technology is expensive.† When arrayed in this way you have limited solutions that are not going to bear the passage of time.
Wireless technology has recently become viable.† In each of these examples, however, everything is being fixed.† Technology is changing on an eighteen-month cycle.† Yet, we are building in fixed solutions.† Whether itís the 1960ís open classrooms, or in this kind of cooperative learning environment, we are dealing with specific designs that do not relate to the nature and rate of change which is taking place.†
      Classroom with Six-Student Clusters That becomes, I believe, one of the most important, guiding principles that we have for facilities today.† We have to take a look at all of the different ways by which students learn.† We have to take a look at the dynamics for cooperative learning where for example, you can work with groups of four students for certain types of problems and for others you can work with a group of twelve.† In working in these ways you have to have flexibility.†
       The technological tools are there.† Weíve known for years that we are moving towards these types of technological tools being available, but at the same time we have been hardwiring our solutions.†
       The Port Hueneme school was one of the first schools to solve the problem of having to look over the computer to see the teacher.†† The computers were recessed into the counters.† Again, there was ingenuity involved in these solutions but they were not necessarily relating to an ever more difficult financial situation to get schools funded.†
       To build a school that might have a useful lifetime of forty years, and then pick configurations that have a two and a half-year optimal lifetime, does not make sense.†

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