The Don Moyer’s Boys and Girls Club has two computer labs, one on the first floor and one located on the second floor which is where we will be doing the redesign to the space. The computers are brand new and come with a plethora of software and games that the students already use. It is also equipped for internet use. The second floor lab and the “library” space that is connected to the lab was mainly used as a space where the students could do homework. The main goal is to use what the DMBGC has, which are the computers, a video camera, and the space for the kids to do projects with. The technology is there and we didn’t have to add too much as far as that goes. We added some more educational games for all grade levels because what they have on the computers now seems to be geared more toward the younger kids rather than the older ones. We thought providing folders with educational games in music and arts, English, and math would best as far as this semester goes. We would like to see other software added to the computers so the kids could do more, like create their own videos and upload them to Youtube.com instead of just watching videos on Youtube.com. Also uploading something like Audacity, which is a free audio editor and recorder so the kids could record their own music. This equipment should fulfill their current and future needs for awhile because the computers are so new. The only problem I see happening is the games we put into the folders disappear from the sites that they are linked to. The main focus of the site is the space because the technology that is currently in place is new and well kept.
We needed to do a lot to the space because of how unwelcoming it was and not appealing children. The bare white walls did nothing for the room and the bookshelves that were along the wall not only held books, but also different material that was stuck behind the bookshelves. For the space to be suitable for children it needed to be colorful and different then the rest of the building. We followed the design plan of Deven Gibbs, the architectural student who has been working to design the space for well over a year and a half. We still wanted to keep the computers in that space, but we didn’t want to just keep them in the room that they were in prior to the redesign. We expanded the computer lab into the “library” room and it is now a Learning Center for the kids. We also made tables that could seat two to three kids at a time and they aren’t facing the wall. Before the computers were along the wall and the kids were stuck facing the wall. The computers still have to be close to the wall because that is where the network jacks and the electrical outlets are located. We implemented a cubby space for the kids to seat and read or do homework in so they don’t have to just sit at the tables, but could relax from a long day at school. We also implemented laptops so the kids don’t have to be stuck at the computer, but could be at the counter above the cubby space or even in the cubby space. The room had potential for all kinds of ideas and it just took a team and a person with a vision to bring it together. For the future there could be a couch and a flat screen television to expand and make the space not only for homework and projects, but also to relax and watch shows or watch videos that were created for Youtube.com. There is also room for more comfortable reading chairs that the kids could use.
Over time more can be added to the space. Since our main focus on this project was the space and how the computers would fit into the redesign that was created that is what we will look at as far as sustaining that space. So far the space that we have put together includes five half round tables that can house two to three computers along with their towers. There are two cubby spaces for the kids to use that can fit one to two kids in each cubby. There is a counter on top that can be used as a workspace for laptops. For that we need chairs that the kids can use to sit at the counter. There will be a bookshelf that will have books and we’re thinking of having a little space so kids can sit in that corner and read. We would also like to see more comfortable seating that the kids can use as reading chairs or just to sit down and having conversations with other kids in a relaxing environment. The main thing as far as the computers go are the outlets for the network as well as the electrical outlets. It would be nice to have computers in the middle of the room set up on tables and have outlets installed in the floor. Even though we have tables that don’t force the kids to face the walls, we still have to have those computers close to the walls in order for them to work. It is wise to document everything that has been done to the space so future people know the steps that were taking to redesign the space as well as show what has worked, what didn’t work and what could be done to the space to make it more appealing. It would be wise for the leaders within the organization to get a better understanding of how to put together programs that would include the technology that is in the space right now. They have the computers and a video camera, they could use that technology and the space provided to some up with some kind of program that would allow the kids to explore the full potential of the technology provided. This would require that the staff know how to use the technology and learn the software before teaching the kids who to use and explore it.
Maximizing Outcomes and Impact
The Power Hour program will especially benefit from the learning center re-design. During this program, everyone in the club is required to do some type of school work or study with tutors for one hour. The Learning Center now offers all different types of comfortable spaces that can be used for study and group work. The new games will also allow students to have fun while still meeting the educational requirements of this program.
The downstairs computer lab is set up with a very classroom-like atmosphere which leads to a top-down model of learning. This is useful for presentations or guided learning where staff or volunteers needs to lead the program. However, this setup does not give students much opportunity to explore technology as peers or on their own. One long-term positive impact of the re-design is that it will provide DMBGC with a space where students can collaborate in small groups and learn to use technology without feeling like they are still sitting in a classroom.
One unintended consequence that might arise from the re-design could be that staff will implement harsher computer filters or rules about what the internet can be used for. In the previous set-up (as well as in the downstairs lab) it is very easy for staff to monitor what kids are doing on the computers. In the re-design, computers are now spread across two rooms with monitors facing in all different directions. Furthermore, if kids sit in the cubbies with the laptops they will be fairly well concealed. It will be more difficult for staff and volunteers to supervise the kids. One way to counter this reaction from staff would be to continue to communicate with them about the goals of the new space and how those goals can be attained. If one of the goals of the re-design is to offer students a space where they can work with each other and create media of their own, then they will need the freedom to do so on their own. Also we could look at DMBGC’s existing rules for computer use and seeg how the rules may need to be adjusted for use within the new space.
Project Transition Checklist
October 20th LIS 451 students and Martin Wolske de-constructed the existing Learning Center. Shelving, desks, and the gate were torn out during this time.
October 28th from 2-3pm AR.I students toured the Learning Center and were introduced to the project. Clairellyn from LIS 451 and Deven were there to speak to students. That evening the LIS 451 group prepped the space for painting. DMBGC computers were also moved from the club to GSLIS during this time.
October 29th from 9am-5pm the AR.I group, LIS 451 group, Deven and Deborah painted the Learning Center
November 15th, the LIS 451 group built desks in Martin’s woodshop. He also fed us some pretty delicious PB&J sandwiches.
On November 17th we delivered the desks to DMBGC. Martin also finalized his design for the cubbies and shelves. Deborah, Chelsea and Melissa were impressed with his carpentry skills.
On November 29th we delivered the desktop computers and installed the desks and cubbie.
On December 5th, we finished installing the desks and set up the computers.