Are Computer Labs Necessary in Today’s Schools?

Are computer labs necessary in today’s schools?

According to Cengage author Mark Frydenberg, the answer is yes, but not in the traditional way.

As BizEd Magazine reports, in 2017, “students have their own laptops, so they no longer need a place to connect to the internet or write papers. Instead they need spaces where they can experiment with new technologies.

That’s why, in 2011, Frydenberg spearheaded the development of Bentley University’s Learning & Technology Sandbox, also known as “CIS Sandbox,” for the computer information systems department.

He tells BizEd, “When I was asked to take over the lab in 2010, I was reluctant because it wasn’t a place where I wanted to spend my time. But then I started thinking about what the future of computer learning could be.”

The Sandbox replaced the old computer lab, a traditional space with 40 computer stations, gray carpeting, gray furniture, and no windows, as described by BizEd. With the help of University funding, the space underwent a complete renovation, “replacing the computer stations with six U-shaped tables with monitors for group work, wall-mounted display monitors, and soft chairs for lounging.”

How is the CIS Sandbox used? Frydenberg says it provides IT tutoring, exposes students to new tech, and hosts speakers, workshops and other programming, and gives students a place to study and socialize.

It’s popular, too. The article notes that more than 3,000 students spend time at the Sandbox each semester, and the admissions office, who once said “every school as a computer lab, so no one’s going to come to Bentley because of that space,” has now put the Sandbox on the tour for prospective students.

“Our mission at the Sandbox is to create a space where students can explore technology in a social way,” Frydenberg tells EdBiz. “Giving them the ability to play with the next up-and-coming technological tools or program an app—it’s a pretty powerful thing.”

Tell us what you think – Is a Sandbox the computer lab of the future?

MindTap Integrates Live Virtual Machine Labs for IT Students

Further preparing students to succeed in the high-demand field of computer and information technology (IT), Cengage and Practice Labs, a London-based edtech company, announced the integration of live virtual machine labs into MindTap last week!

Employment in the computer and IT space is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024 – faster than the average for all occupations. With Practice Labs integrated directly into MindTap, students are able to work with live servers and networking hardware from their web browser without leaving the MindTap platform, giving them the hands-on practice needed to develop and master skills that are immediately transferable to the workforce.

“Students love that they are working in a live environment with real servers and networks that they can explore, fail, try again until they succeed. Instructors love that the labs are already built and tested – and that they map to the certification objectives, the Cengage text, and their curriculum.,” said Ricky Doyle, CEO of Practice Labs.

To learn more about Practice Labs, and to see which MindTap courses have live virtual machine labs integrated into the Learning Path, click here.