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Uses of Labs and Learning Spaces

Educause Quarterly Volume 32, Number 1, ISSN 1528-5324


How can an IT department transform traditional computer labs given the resource limits of a university setting? Before engaging a redesign team, conduct some groundwork and initial research to help guide design and resource decisions. When the author and her colleagues considered modifying the lab spaces at Cornell, they initially engaged in several research projects that then informed their decisions. A key aspect of their research was to conduct several focus groups across a diverse cross-section of lab users and other campus stakeholders. Observations of lab use and staff feedback provided a long-term view of how the lab spaces are actually used and helped them identify needs for future designs. One of their findings about how students and faculty use lab spaces showed that a lab's campus location matters--proximity has an impact on how a space is used. Because their research findings indicated multiple and varied uses of a single space, they also reviewed research findings from another project that implemented a "smart classroom" in a small space previously used as a computer lab. The changes to the space were minor, with the focus on what technologies could best be used to enhance teaching and learning. Results showed positive teaching outcomes when implementing smart-classroom technologies: "All concur that a cascade of positive effects is observable and that the quality of teaching and learning have improved as a result of the innovation." This project demonstrated the importance of identifying the critical elements for teaching and implementing them in a cost-effective way. The findings influenced their decisions about modifying Cornell lab spaces by using similar ideas. (Contains 4 endnotes.)


van den Blink, C. (2009). Uses of Labs and Learning Spaces. Educause Quarterly, 32(1),. Retrieved November 26, 2020 from .

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