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The College of Education General Access Computer Lab Renovation: Creating a welcoming environment for all learners
Several years ago I did a series, Lab-of-the-Month, and I also do a regular 'What we did this summer' article in August about General Access Computer Lab updates but this year, the renovations in the College of Education (COE) General Access Computer Lab came early and are so terrific in my opinion that they needed to be featured right away. Much of this interest on my part stems from my membership on the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access) Team (Division of Equity and Diversity) as a Staff Council Representative. The IDEA team is a group striving to create a welcoming atmosphere for all at the university. When I got the renovation news and photos from Dr. Charles Andrews, manager of the COE lab I was amazed at how their design creates exactly that kind of welcome and access. This article is taken from his description of the lab's setup.
The COE lab now has a self-checkin setup which allows individual students to get on to their machines for work quickly rather than waiting at a checkin desk. It should be noted that the CHECKIN application, developed and housed in ACS Student Computing Services is releasing a self-checkin module in August so several of the computer labs on campus should be featuring such a service in the near future. COE also has a large screen monitor which shows what stations are in use and what special hardware and software the stations contain where applicable:
In their main room lab the individual stations have been switched to a 'carrel' environment to allow for maximum privacy and quiet during study time:
There is an adjoining lab especially made for collaborative group work and study. A pleasant atmosphere with plants and tables that comfortably house two students is provided:
Making special effort for our students with children, the COE lab has a large group work corner where parents can work while their children play - a great accommodation for our students with families:
Finally, like many of the other general access computer labs on campus, the College of Education is able to have self-service computer 'kiosks' in their hallway for students who just need to briefly stop and check their email or surf the web:
So with their lab renovation, the COE successfully coordinates an atmosphere which we should all look for on the UNT campuses: a place that accommodates students according to learning styles, study habits, assignments and even personal considerations like family time. Bravo COE - you have set up a great model for us all!