are we doing it as well as anyone else?
To answer that I tried a novel approach - flickr. I searched flickr for photographs of computer labs (well students spend a lot of time there and it's something marketing types like photographs of to show how good UofX's facilites are, so the chances are that we'll get some representative images)
On the basis of my search I can say
- computer labs are either funky or grungy
- there are four basic designs:
- traditional, everyone face the front designed for chalk'n'talk
- traditional, computers round the walls - walls make it easy to provide networks and power points, and if you want people not to talk to each other (aka individual study) it's not a bad design
- small group without dividers - aim is to provide facilities for group work and usually has a shared table type design
- small group with dividers - designed for individual study but without the regimentation of options #1 or #2
What I havn't been able to search is what I call 'beanbag labs' ie semi formal study areas where students can bring their own laptops, plug into wifi, and work between tutorials. I suspect that these are provided as open bench areas or as clusters of traditional carrels in the main, but that institutions with newer funkier facilities provide a range of options from the traditional reading room bench to the more comfortable chairs and beanbags type area.
The two sets of pictures (has to be two as flickr only allows you 18 pictures in a gallery) can be viewed at: