What is a computer classroom?What works and what doesn't? What are the unique opportunities? What does the teacher/the student give up/gain? What software needs to be invented/developed? What's the range of configurations for various purposes? Which multi-purpose designs are least constraining? What are the support issues and solutions? What are the upgrade paths and pitfalls? What are the networking implications and barriers? Various models, with implications: Lab, Overhead Projector, Cluster, Asynchronous, Portable, Distributed, others? What activities are only possible with? What activities are foredoomed by? What are the hardware limitations of the moment? What do instructors have to know before attempting to teach with computers? What are students supposed to DO, and how does the activity actually IMPROVE their education?
These are all probems for which we have the haziest understanding, built of hopes and prejudices and character-building episodes. Most of us who have used computers to teach have plenty of horror stories, but quite a few happy outcomes as well.
We at W&L really don't have a very clear vision of the range of configurations in use, and we need that in order to design flexible and appropriate facilities for the immediate future. It's unfortunate that the half-life of the hardware (and the software!) is so brief --making innovation perilous-- and vexatious that last year's solutions are so often risible.
Passepartout: working toward a proposal for Mobile Electronic Classrooms For Washington & Lee University