It only occurred to me the week that we began tearing down our bulletin boards. For fifteen years, with a five year hiatus in fourth grade, I have been housed in the same corner of our school. I have had some sign or cut-out letters welcoming students to "The Computer Lab." When we moved out of our building for renovations for two years and moved back in, the room was switched across the hall, but the name remained: Computer Lab.
Now, a decade and a half later, I'm finally questioning that distinction. Lab? What sort of nefarious experiments are taking place inside? Is this where I will find the Bunsen burners, bubbling flasks of chemicals and towering, crackling Van de Graaf generators? It's a room full of computers. The exciting distinction here being that we have enough that every kid from any given class can have his or her own for fifty minutes at a time. A couple years ago we did an investigation into what might happen if we had to make some of those kids share when we had more than thirty kids in a couple of different classes.
But mostly my room is the place where the PCs are housed. Every classroom in our school is equipped with the same machines, but only three or four of them. Having spent some time as a classroom teacher, I know how challenging it is to come up with a rotation or procedure that will allow a fair resolution to the question, "When is it my turn?" In that way, my room is a resolution to that quandary, not a question in itself. More of a stasis chamber than chamber of hypothesis.
I know that I inherited this nomenclature. That was back when a room full of Mac LCIIs and tractor feed printers seemed like science fiction. It was another time, another century. There was a mystery to such things. Last year when we upgraded to flat screen monitors, we had a number of kids who were suitably impressed, but just about as many who sniffed and rolled their eyes. "I've got one like this at home."
And so it goes. Here in the Computer Lab we continue to try and stay ahead of the frightening speed of technological advances. Students wonder aloud why they need to learn to type with ten fingers on a Qwerty keyboard when their thumbs do a completely serviceable job on their phones. When are we getting iPads? The experiment, obviously, is being conducted on me.