What is the value of a computer room in a school?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 | Computer Usage

Technology is of the greatest value to teachers when it is available in the classroom. 

Why do schools then have computer rooms (also called computer laboratories or computer suites)?  Should we not dismantle them and distribute the technology to classrooms?

Before you demolish your computer room, just pause for a moment.  Computer rooms hold huge value, if used properly.  Think about the following great things you can do there:

The only way in which learners can attain digital literacy is by having hands-on experience with computer equipment.  Not many children on the African continent have access to computer equipment at home and limited technology in the classroom may not give learners an opportunity to use it to the extent that they can build computer skills.  A computer room allows learners to become comfortable in the use of computer equipment.

Drill-and-practice exercises can be given to learners, honing numeracy and mathematical abilities.  Of course, this requires skillfulness on the part of the teacher who must ensure that computer room activities are integrated with what is happening in the home classroom.

On-line assessment is a great time saver for teachers.  No more marking of scripts and calculation and collation of marks!  It is all done for you by special software packages designed for this purpose.

Individual research is best carried out by learners when each one has access to the internet.  A computer room lends itself to this type of research.  Of course, cell phones can be used for this purpose too, but then teachers have no way of telling where on the web learners are roaming.  In a computer room, a teacher can use monitoring software to supervise and guide the research process.

Individual project work is possible if learners have access to computers – this too can take place in the computer room.

Learners can visit the computer room after hours to engage in e-learning courses or do revision of notes which are available in digital format – each learner at his or her own pace.

Teachers are encouraged to bring technology into their classrooms.  Computer rooms have a different purpose.  Both are needed to develop twenty-first century skills.

For more technology tips for teachers click here.

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10 Comments to What is the value of a computer room in a school?

Beth Knittle
Tuesday, 2 November, 2010

Kobus,

I would agree that the technology should be in classrooms. Though I do think there is a place for a computer lab or two. We have one lab in the district that has a copy of every piece of software we own. For example we can not afford adobe creative suites for every machine in the school system but do have a place where if needed people can access it. This lab also lets us expose people do the variety of software we have so they can make the right choice about what they need.

Kobus van Wyk
Tuesday, 2 November, 2010

Beth, thanks for making a good point/suggestion. Even though you’re commenting on a situation in a school district, I can see how it could be applicable in schools as well. Some site licences are rather high, so a school could purchase one copy and put the software on one computer in the lab, where it is accessible to all in the school.

[...] What is the value of a computer room in a schoo… [...]

Makhosandile Ndzuzo
Tuesday, 2 November, 2010

Use of technology in the classroom and ensuring that every learner is competent in its use are essential in individualising learning opportunities. I agree completely that “dismantling computer rooms” could be the way to go even as revolutionary as that call may sound.

We’ve got to move rapidly towards the future. Thanks Kobus.

[...] rooms have many uses, such as allowing learners to gain computer skills, doing drill and practice exercises, doing [...]

John Thole
Thursday, 4 November, 2010

A good reason for having a lab in a school would be if the school wished to develop a baseline of ICT literacy competence across their learners, perhaps only in the first or second year of high school. The lab facilitates some of the basics in a controlled environment but once this baseline is achieved then more diverse technologies or more distributed ICT will enable a better and more responsive learning environment for the learners.

Dereck Marnewick
Thursday, 4 November, 2010

One of the ‘burdens’ teachers face is that of marking tests and exams and then collating the results in order to determine the most appropriate intervention.

A computer lab, with the appropriate software, can be very well utilised to conduct meaningful assessments of subject and curricula specific work.

Imagine having the computer conduct the assessment, mark the assessment and then provide the teacher with immediate and meaningful diagnostics.

This is possible and is being done regularly at a large number of schools in South Africa, for more details see http://www.xtrocks.co.za

Mike Maddin
Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

A seldom-mentioned advantage of computer labs is the added teaching time it provides. How long does it take to pass out 30 laptops and get them up and running? Say 10 minutes? And how long to put them away? Perhaps 5 minutes? In a 50 minute high school period, that is 30% of the period.
A lab, on the other hand, allows the class run from bell to bell.

Kobus van Wyk
Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

Thank you Mike … you are making an excellent point, one that is seldom considered.

MWaters
Tuesday, 16 November, 2010

I think that computer rooms are very important in school. It’s great to have computers in classrooms, but there is no way to fit a computer for each students in every classroom. Having a computer room is a smart way to have students all working on computers at the same time. I like how the article pointed out the use of computers for testing. More and more tests are being taken on the computer, including our state tests. Students need time to get familiar with using a computer in order to reach a certain level of comfort that allows them to be confident when doing their work or taking tests in the computer room.

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