What is the best arrangement of computers to support classroom activities? In our school, it varies considerably by grade level and subject. Once upon a time, laptops seemed destined to replace all computers, but lately we have found desktop computers to be lower cost, more reliable, and quicker to activate, hence the mixed environment in some spaces. Sometimes, fixing a computer to one location is actually a benefit, such as when teaching 22 elementary students in 40-minute blocks, rendering a digital video for hours, or keeping a reliable connection to an inkjet printer.
- 1:1 student laptop program
- arts desktop computers for video rendering and inkjet printing
- computer science desktop computers for Linux applications
- three laptop carts
- desktop computers in arts, English, and World Cultures classrooms and main office
- computer lab for grades 4-5
- two desktop computers per classroom in grades 1-5 + most specialist classrooms
- four laptop computers per classrooms in grades 3-5
Student and parents attend an Upper School laptop orientation.
Fifth grade classroom computer
Lower School computer lab (22 computers)
Middle School laptop cart
Our middle school visual arts teacher organizes a self-portrait project for his students based on the techniques of Chuck Close. In his classroom, he has the students use Apple Photo Booth to capture a photo of themselves and then modify it in the way they desire. They print the photo, add a grid using pen, and then begin to draw their self-portrait using pastel crayons on a larger, similarly-gridded paper.
I asked whether using Photo Booth’s built-in image filters stunted the students’ creativity in this project. On the contrary, Dale replied, it helped those students who needed a little push be more creative. Other students found plenty of creative space in the drawing portion of the assignment. The digital portion was just a starting point for the project. One student used Photoshop instead of Photo Booth to achieve a more custom effect.
New iMacs with built-in cameras made the digital portion of the project run more easily and faster for a number of students. They were more quickly able to get to the drawing portion than did students in past years. The teacher successfully used the digital tool to assist the creative process while retaining hand drawing as the central component.