Chromebooks may replace computer labs

Recently, many students and staff members have been noticing that the computer labs at BC are often unoccupied. Why are students using computers less in this age of technology and hoverboards? In fact, the decreased usage of computer labs is a result of the district goal of reaching a 1:1 student to personal device ratio.

Library and media specialist Mr. Paese stated that since the freshmen and sophomores received their own personal Chromebooks this school year, there has been less traffic in the library’s PC computer lab. Most of the computer lab usage comes from juniors and seniors, as they do not have Chromebooks. With all students receiving a Chromebook next year, the use of computer labs is expected to reach an all-time low.

What will happen to the rarely used general computer labs around the school?

“It’s hard to say at this point,” said Mr. Paese. However, there are many remodeling options for the computer labs. One option is to create a Makerspace, which is an area that provides materials to design, build, collaborate, and inspire creativity. According to Mr. Paese, these spaces may include resources for video and audio production, coding and computer programming, writing and authorship, educational gaming, or other categories of interest.

Mrs. Rueth, BC’s technology integrator, suggested a “collaboration space with furniture that is mobile and can be rearranged in many different ways.”

For example, easily movable tables could be changed into a U shape, a big circle, or in a row, depending on the need. This will allow groups of all sizes to collaborate in one space by moving tables together without disturbing other classes.

Another area that might undergo remodeling is the second floor of the school library. “We could put bookshelves along the walls and open that space up as a learning space,” said Mr. Gruetzmacher.

This space might become a Makerspace, a collaboration area, or something completely different. Those involved in this project are currently researching various schools for design ideas.

“We hope to blend what we love about the traditional library with some exciting redesign that is necessary to support 21st Century teaching and learning,” said Mr. Paese.

“Everything is on the table, but we want to make sure we meet the needs of teachers and students,” said Mr. Gruetzmacher.

This small change in technology and redesign in space correlate to greater changes in education at BC. The next few school years point towards more project-based learning approaches for all teachers. Along with traditional tests, students may utilize project-based activities to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. A green screen and recording microphone in the proposed Makerspace could be utilized for videos that explain and model a learning target. A collaboration room with mobile furniture could be used for group projects.

“Certainly, the Chromebooks are great, but they will never replace a Mac or a PC,” said Mr. Gruetzmacher. Not all labs will be redesigned; Mr. Juran’s Mac lab, Mr. Osterberg’s lab, and Mrs. Fisher’s business lab are just a few computer labs in the school that will stay the same.

“You might see a little change next year with at least one lab. Not all of them will go away, but nothing has been decided,” said Mrs. Rueth.

If you have any feedback regarding the changes, please stop the library and speak with Mr. Paese.