Right Now It’s Perfect

Over heard the other day while everyone was getting ready for the first day of school:  “It’s clean, everything is where it’s supposed to be, it’s perfect!”

I disagree.  This is as far from perfect as a school can get.  Give it a few weeks full of messy, chaotic learning and then it will start to approach the kind of perfection a school is capable of.

I can’t wait to take the shine off it!

OISE AQ Blog: Your dream lab

Our blog entry for today (we do one a day during this qualification course to teach computer engineering)…

Mike Druiven‘s lab at CKSS in Milton

In the context of teaching Computer Technology, 9 to 12
What do you like about 112 & 113 at CKS?

  • The rooms are purposed for what they teach (I have to teach comp-eng in a board lab with locked down computers shared with 2 other subject areas).
  • The cupboards were installed to a very high standard (we installed them last year ūüėČ and provide a lot of easily accessible storage.
  • The work benches have plugs on hand and encourage building as well as easy collaborating (Conestoga’s computer engineering lab uses similar benches – I’d LOVE a set of them!)
  • natural light is nice
  • Smartboard is permanently installed and out of the way
  • multiple seating areas
  • two labs designed around two different purposes so you can go to what fits what you’re doing best

What would you change?

  • the stools aren’t the most comfortable over a whole day, but that’s not really an issue for teenagers in 75 minute periods,¬†wheelie ergonomic work chairs¬†would be nice, but wouldn’t fit the regular student in here (as opposed to the old guy with a dodgy back)
  • rack mounted LCD monitors¬†that could be folded away when not in use would be nice for the benches, as would a sleeve to hold peripherals for quick set up of desktops
  • having more control of the server side IT structure would allow for more complete networking¬†opportunities¬†while still making use of board internet access
  • I saw a sound-field system used a few years ago and even though I’m not a particularly audial learner, I found it absolutely fantastic for de-stressing a teacher’s voice and aiding student learning, having one in here would be nice
  • we’re inches away from¬†3d holography. ¬†Mike could go full ‘help me Obiwan Kenobi, you’re my only hope!’ with a 3d holography system in front of his desk… where else but in computer engineering should we show of the leading edge of computer engineering?

Develop a 5 year action plan to improve a Computer Technology classroom that you work in, have worked in or have seen.

  • improve tools & supplies
  • improve equipment
  • improve seating and lesson delivery
  • improve displays
I’ve¬†agonized over the lab they gave me¬†since seeing Mike putting together his lab last summer. ¬†I initially gave up, then started looking at cheap ways to make use of this giant space. ¬†I went on an ethernet spending spree and purchased long (25 and 50 ft) ethernet cables whenever they went on sale. ¬†When I had enough I took an afternoon after school and migrated all the computers at the back up the unused wall, so the school lab is now located all toward the front of the room (and connected to the drops at the back by looong ethernet cables). ¬†With the back clear, I got my hands on some work tables and set them up in a C pattern at the back. ¬†It is here that we build our own networks and PCs.
I began picking up computers from schools from our board’s regional school (GCVI in Guelph), so every year I have relatively new machines we can experiment on. ¬†This year we’re especially lucky because our technician asked if we could keep 30 of the retiring PCs back for us to use, so in the fall we’ll have 2GB Pentium Core2Duo machines, which should be fun.
I’d still like the lab to be computer engineering specific. We currently run 3 grade 9 sections and an 11/12 combined section. ¬†If I can get that up to eight sections, I could lock down the lab and¬†re-purpose¬†it to computer engineering and nothing else. ¬†If that happened I’d chuck the board lab (someone would be happy to have it somewhere else) and run work benches down the middle of the room, leaving the side tables for other work.
I’m currently looking at getting my hands on more Raspberry Pis and Arduinos and expanding our electronics¬†repertoire. It’s currently stored in a back room, I would very much like to have in-room access to this material as Mike has in his room.
Seating and lesson delivery would be aided by a lab with re-adjustable benches and seating.

The Dream Media Arts Lab

A couple of years ago I saw¬†THIS¬†video about Finnish classroom furniture. ¬†I used it in my¬†dream media arts lab. ¬†Having a room with furniture that could reconfigure on the fly for whatever we’re doing is the kind of flexibility I dream of in the classroom.

I saw¬†Mosaika¬†a couple of years ago at the Parliament¬†buildings¬†in Ottawa. ¬†It blew me away! ¬†It turns out projection is the next big thing in¬†animating buildings. ¬†I’d like to do something similar in our school ¬†with a long throw projector, using it to show announcements and pictures on the wall of our library. ¬†Five years out I’m hoping that¬†pico-projectors¬†will be cheap enough that the walls, floor and ceiling of my classroom will become pedagogical tools for student learning. ¬†I don’t think I’m going to get to see¬†holo-decks¬†during my career, but the idea of a holographic or whole room projection is a pretty exciting prospect, and once again, where else to show the future of computer engineering if not in a computer engineering lab?
Coding the walls to show supporting information around student learning as it happens… we haven’t even begun to consider just how powerful pervasive digital presence in the real world could be! ¬†(I’m tempted to put an evil scientist laugh in here)
My lab 2013: