By Russel Stolins
At the start of the Fall 2018 term, one of the Institute of American Indian Arts computer labs was vacant, and no courses were being held there. Academic Dean Charlene Teters looked it over with me and said I could do whatever I wanted with the space.
The lab’s original layout had three rows of computers and felt fairly cramped. I wanted to make the space more open and inviting. I also wanted to make it better suited to the style of self-paced technology teaching I tend to use. The layout went from rows to against the walls, with a central set of tables for face-to-face gatherings during a workshop.
The Workshop Lab has 14 desktop computers and space to set up a further 10 laptop computers as needed. A cabinet contains laptop computers that are immediately ready for use. It also has a projector and a system to easily share what is on the teacher’s computer screen on each computer in the lab.
The new Workshop Lab can fulfill a variety of uses. Faculty can reserve the lab on short notice throughout the semester. Some of the most obvious uses for the lab include a technology skills workshops for writing, researching, image editing and other technology skills can be taught there. A flipped classroom is one use, where instead of students doing homework outside of class, the Workshop Lab can serve as a place where students do homework, with the instructor immediately available to assist. The “lecture” part of class could be recorded as a video for
students to view outside of class. This “flips” the usual sequence of lecture in-class and coursework outside-class.
As for small group activities, the Workshop Lab is amenable to students working in groups of two to four for maybe collaborating on a library or Internet-based research, peer review of draft term papers, and the list goes on.
The Workshop Lab is likely to be available for the next few years. If there’s a class activity you think would benefit from the Workshop Lab, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor about it. A reservation can be made in just a few minutes; usually even on the same day, if necessary.