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The DIY School Computer Lab

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Timothy King

on 13 November 2016

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Transcript of The DIY School Computer Lab

The DIY School Computer Lab
Who Am I?
Computer Technician
Network Administrator
Computer Engineering Qualified Instructor
I got my first computer when I was eleven (1980)
I taught myself to program on it by modding games
I first got on the internet in 1992, I was a regular user by '94
I'm a digital immigrant, but a very early one
computers have always been an avenue for creative expression
The State of Educational Technology then
personalization of technology
cloud computing
technical illiteracy
unfamiliarity with technology
generic educational technology
social media
technology assisted individualized learning
digital empowerment
self-taught, habitual users
digital impoverishment
no coherent development of digital skills
developing digital literacy through differentiating technology
byod: a reward for fluency
mini-lab: diverse school devices that teach digital fluency
basic labs for beginners
School Lab/BYOD Edtech
where we could go: (but haven't)
randomly instituted
little oversight or training
left to individual teachers, who then off load management due to lack of digital fluency
played as a money saving move
enhances digital divide
no steps to earn/achieve it
unpedagogically supported
NEVER as a starting point! It's like buying a car for someone who doesn't know how to drive!
Centralized IT
no differentiation
minimal digital diversity
no opportunity to learn variations in technology
irrelevant to the world students are graduated into
results in poor digital literacy
fair in the same way that making all students wear size 5 shoes is fair
School computer lab/Chromebooks (aka cloud computer lab)
for beginners
secure, directed environment
develop familiarity with basic digital fluencies
system designed to slowly open options as skills are demonstrated consistently
Computers as a learning

& research tool

break habitual use patterns!
Familiarity with personal usage in order to prepare for effective

personalization of technology
Internet as a source of information/not just entertainment
Critical analysis skills
Internet as a collaborative tool
digital citizenship
social computing (social media, cyber bullying, digital footprint awareness)
The goal: to develop digital fluency around something other than an entertainment paradigm
learning evolves into a more open system
when students demonstrate an ability to cope with it
DIY-lab Concept
Access to diverse equipment & online environments
an experienced digital coach/digital mentor
development of awareness of personal style in approaching digital fluency
ability to choose effective digital tools to maximize digitally enhanced learning
Mid-level digital fluencies
awareness of various hardware and software approaches to digital access
development of a personalized approach to effective digital skills
ability to self moderate online behavior in a productive manner in an otherwise unstructured environment
effective troubleshooting abilities
The Ideal Digital Learner
digitally self-aware (citizen, footprint)
able to select the best hardware and software for the task at hand
Digital Apprentice
Digital Journeyman
Digital Mastery
(that's staff or students)
The Theory
The Practice
4 Years ago I presented at ECOO on the idea of a student made computer lab driven by pedagogy rather than ease of IT management
way back in 2012, things were looking dire!
The State of Educational Technology today
personalization of technology has only increased
cloud computing is now the main form of computing
technical illiteracy is as it ever was
unfamiliarity with the underpinnings of technology
generic educational technology that can now do even less!
social media has become private, especially for teens
less transparency more anxiety
technology assisted individualized learning
digital empowerment continues to dwindle
self-taught, habitual users who can now hide their lack of knowledge in hidden social media
digital impoverishment continues unabated in most classrooms
still no coherent curriculum of digital skills
in 2016 not much has changed
4 years later
BYOD has never really taken off. Students who can afford a laptop are hesitant to bring it into a potentially hazardous environment (like high school), and the ones who couldn't never even had that choice.
In our school these labs are dying, being replaced by single purpose mobile devices that require the cloud to function at all
curiosity rather than habit directs digital use
quickly able to adapt to new technology and integrate it into their learning
digital artist
Former millwright
& automotive tech
my garage!
from Theory
to practice
Building the lab
ask around, you never know how nice tech companies can be, especially with education!
if you need to do this on a tight budget, get only what you need
involve your students, you'll always have a couple of gems who can help get you going
ask if they have any family who can help!
ask your local technology shop
begin to change expectations from being spoon fed technology to being an active author of it.
The basic bits
What we needed:
AMD A10 7860K W/ AMD Quiet Cooler Quad Core APU 3.6/4.0GHZ Processor $140
DDR3-2400 240PIN Dual Channel Memory $65
$268 per seat - we're recycling
ewaste & building fast multitasking PCs for
$100 less than a single function chromebook
What we had going for us: a generic ATX based school board computer that was ending its life-span. This gave us:
a case
a power supply
a hard drive
what did this give us?
The most powerful desktop computers in the school for about $300 a seat:
twice as much memory running more than twice as quickly
dedicated graphics that produce 3d images at something like ten times (
) the speed and of higher quality than the built in graphics on board Intel PCs
faster USB for better file sharing
more CPU cores running faster

tangible results
What did we get out of the DIY computer lab?
Hey! What about software?
With the rest of the board still using a cobbled together image of out of date sofware on Windows 7 (itself no longer supported by Microsoft), our lab is a pleasant surprise:
get the it for free!
Where next?

We have control of our educational technology - which means pedagogy drives it, not ease of management.
We've been able to early-adopt like never before and explore emerging technologies as they happen.
Our students are producing technology for use across the board. Our graduates are finding that they are already familiar with technology their professors have yet to use.
We are producing provincial champions in information technology and networking, and one of our grade 9s finished top 10 in the province in electronics last year (she aims to win it this year, while still a junior)
... all this from a rural school not known for its high-tech prowess.
More of our graduates than ever before are successfully entering post secondary high-tech / high demand programs, and succeeding in them.
authoring your tech use makes everyone a winner!
Provide your students with experiences, not know how!
Model your exploration of technolgy use.
DIY your digital learning spaces!
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