This example of my work shares the steps and a reflection on my Lower School computer lab transformation to Makerspace which was an alignment of space with the pedagogcial practices of the school.
After 30 years of teaching computer at Greenhill my predecessor retired, leaving the school in need of a new computer teacher. The exciting part of this change was the school saw it as an opportunity for new ideas and a total redesign of the computer lab space to align with the curricular and pedagogical thinking that I wanted to bring to the program upon being hired for the 2016-2017 school year. The artifact shown here is my proposal that was given to the Head of School and Financial Sustainability team, for the space redesign to support the teaching and learning taking place in the Lower School Computer Science and Engineering lab. The lab redesign will take place summer 2017, with its unveiling for the 2018 school year. The Lower School students and teachers will be invited to use this space for extension activities on top of my current class rotation for 2nd-4th grade. The artifact explains that there will be new mobile furniture, upgraded technology tools, a green screen video space, and new tools for creating and engineering.
Space and environment are just as important to learning as the material being taught. The environment can influence the way a learner approaches and experience and it tells the student a great deal about what kind of expectations exist in the space. My current lab space is very traditional, with affixed computer tables and desktop computers lining the walls, beige walls, and very little opportunity for diversity of seating. This artifact is phase one of the redesign process, which started with the presentation to the key decision makers at my school. It has now undergone many iterations and changes to better fit both mine and my student’s needs. It has been challenging to not only stay within budget, but also determine which items will best serve our current and future needs, as well as maintaining brand integrity within the school’s color scheme and esthetic. There are also many factors that were not thought of in the original plan which had either added to the cost, or changed the direction of the project in some areas, such as the need to paint the entire classroom once the tables are removed.
Redesigning the Lower School computer lab not only supports my curricular and pedagogical focus, but my emphasis on human centered design. In working with my division head and the Director of Instructional Technology, I was able to go through the design process, using my students as the target audience. This supports my framework by creating a learning space that support student lead learning experiences and maker education through instructional technology.
My experience creating this proposal, going through multiple design iterations, and finally the approval stage has been transformative in my thinking about developing an action plan that is supported with research. I thought that after I was approved I was done, but the process has been ongoing for four months. Now that I am in the final stages of furniture selection and timelines for install the excitement of what this will mean for the students is now upon me. I have spent the year combating the idea that when the students walked into the traditional lab that they think they should be on the computers, but the curriculum I have created is so much more than that. The space change will now better support the thinking structures and habits of mind I am working to instill in my students.