Organizational Opportunity, Need, or Problem
Canaan Academy is a small private elementary school in Urbana, Illinois, serving 60 students in grades pre-kindergarten through fifth. In addition to the school’s regular class sessions that meet between 8 in the morning and 2:45 in the afternoon, an after-school program is offered for the students until 6 in the evening. The small religion-based school is very focused on a holistic approach to instruction by providing support for students’ spiritual, academic, social and emotional growth throughout the day, beginning each day with devotionals and a cooperative approach to dealing with any disciplinary issues. For this reason, having the children be able to work collaboratively is an important component of their education.
The current computer lab presents several obstacles for instruction, collaboration, and overall use. While class sizes are small and only include about 15 students, the number and arrangement of the computers force some students to work on other projects on the floor when all of the computers are occupied. Furthermore, there is no projection screen or computer station that the teacher can easily use for demonstrations. Instead, the teacher works individually with each student at the computers which are lined up in rows. This makes it difficult for the teacher to maneuver around to each station. Having all of the computers in the center of the room like this also creates a lot of hazards, since the power cords are strewn across walkways. Lastly, extra supplies and unused, donated computers are stored in the corner of the room, taking up space that could be used more efficiently.
Therefore, the bulk of redesign will focus on rearranging the room to allow for better traffic flow and collaboration between the students themselves and the students and teachers. We have not finalized a layout, but the current desks are large and do not afford us many options. We would like to somehow create a space with half-round tables against the wall, which will allow for more people to gather around one computer at once. We also believe that this, in combination with the computer grant which will provide the site with smaller monitors, will allow a couple more computers to be added to the room. The current plan includes four half-round tables with three computers each and a full table in the center of the room that can be used as blank desk space.