Modern computer technology is having an immense impact on how teaching, learning, and research are done. With this in mind, facility planners must accomodate sophisticated technologies with a carefully designed communications network that is fully integrated into the fabric of the building. In order to bring about such a system, designers must incorporate computer rooms, equipment closets, and a cabling system sufficient to the task of providing for future computing needs. Planners should also be aware that future developments, especially in high-speed, wireless communication, will change the way computers are used and allow network access without physical connections. These changes are of great importance to those attempting to construct spaces that will remain useful in the years ahead.
"Virtual physics. For physics students. . . .a virtual laboratory has been developed where experiments in motion and gravity may be undertaken. . . . The lab provides a first look at how VR may be used in teaching basic physics concepts. A student can learn about gravity and Newton's Laws-not just be reading, or watching a demonstration-but viscerally, through experimentation and trial and error. Time can be stopped or slowed to observe what happens in a fast-moving experiment. The simple and intuitive interface does not impede learning, and to a large extent, the teacher's attention is not required while the student is in the lab. (There's nothing to break or blow up!). . .typically in a networked system. ..the teacher would enter the lab when needed then move on to another student, all without leaving his or her desk."
- Ben Delany. Virtual Reality.
Quoted in Lab Design for the Future, Anshen and Alllen.
From Experience: Columbia University
Columbia University has made the use of hypermedia technologies a centerpiece of their ambitious plan to make sweeping changes in what we teach and how we teach undergraduates and to design the chemistry curriculum for the 21st century. The plan, called the Edison Project, calls for the construction of multimedia classrooms and labs (smart classrooms) that will be equipped with the full range of communications technologies available today. The goal is to use the powerful computer graphics programs to offer students the opportunity of visualizing chemistry on the computer screen. Project Edison incorporates new classrooms, projection systems, and workstations to transform the way chemistry is taught at Columbia. Students in the near future will be able to view three dimensional molecular structures on a computer or projection screen and visually simulate the dynamics of molecular motions. By taking bold steps in improving their computer technology, Columbia hopes it is moving towards a paperless learning environment better suited for the doing of science.
Asking the Right Questions
Computer/Networking Questions To Ask:
What are the current technologies that we want to utilize in our teaching of science?
Does our building plan take them into account?
What future technologies might we want to use in our teaching of science?
Does our building plan provide the flexibility to utilize them?