Alexander Edens

Report on Travel to Cal Poly to look at Studio Labs

             The room was a long rectangle and carpeted(!) It had a large teacher’s station on the middle of one long wall. There was a white board behind the teacher. The station had a document camera facing down that the instructor used to draw diagrams as he lectured. The instructor has a hands-free mike.


             Pairs of students sat together in a module. Each module was shaped like one quarter of a Maltese cross. Each module contained one computer monitor, a keyboard, a tiny computer, a power tree, a hot plate and ring stand, and a Logarpro box. The area under the desk was completely hollow (no drawers in the module). It could be used to store backpacks or just for leg room. During lecture the module monitor shows the document camera at the instructor's desk. During lab, it becomes a usual computer that the students control.


             Every four modules are arranged into a Maltese cross. This is called one “cluster” and includes 8 students. They are form one lab group. There are 8 clusters, so 64 students doing lab! But there are two TAs and a lab tech.  The materials and equipment are set up buffet style on two side counters.


Some issues and answers:

             On each module two students have their back to the instructor. This is true but all the students watch the monitor, not the instructor. I suggest that there should be another camera that shows the instructor and the white board behind him. The instructor could switch to this camera when doing hand-held demos or using the whiteboard.


             The monitors will block student’s view and will be used to surf the web. The students watch the monitor, not the live instructor, so blocking is not an issue. Putting the monitor flat in the desktop is an uncomfortable way to view and students would put books and stuff over the screen. At the instructor station, the instructor can command the student monitors to show only the cameras at the instructor station. The instructor releases the student monitors to be controlled by the students during lab time. The instructor can also eavesdrop on any student monitor.


Some things I thought we could adapt:

             a) I like the complete integration of lecture and lab in the same room at the same time, both in terms of architecture and as a style of teaching.


             b) I like the monitors at the lab stations. This fixes the lab problem of some students not facing the instructor and also it puts a computer on the lab bench.


             c) I like the “Study 25-35 hours per week. 2 hours per unit” sign campaign.


             d) I like using TAs to assist in labs. This allows greater numbers of                           students per lab.


Some things I don’t like

             a) It would be best to have all students able to see the instructor and have a              writing surface in front of them.


             b) Have a camera on the instructor, not just a document camera.


             c) Modules should have water and a sink.


             d) 8 students are too many for one lab group. 4 is best.


             A studio classroom is a room that is set up for lecture and lab. The course is also taught so that the instructor can give lecture on a topic and them seamlessly segway into a lab on the topic. They think this makes for greater student success because students can’t blow off lab days and because the lab on a topic instantly follows the lecture. You get combined visual and hands on learning.

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