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Not Your Parents’ Computer Lab
01.27.14 |

In the early days of computing, a college computer lab could be a stuffy, demoralizing place, filled with long tables where students would sit in rows facing computers with little flexibility or opportunity for working together.

This summer, LVC’s Lynch Technology Center (LTC) broke that mold with a major renovation—driven by data—about how Valley students actually use computers and technology.

LVC’s primary student computing and technology resource, the LTC features more than 30 Windows and Apple computers, a scanning station, high-speed color and black-and-white laser printers, two multi-user touch-screen stations, and four group collaboration spaces.

The collaboration spaces, perhaps the most innovative aspect of the redesigned center, enable up to five students to link their tablets and laptops to one large video monitor and work from each computer collaboratively. “It works well for anything from writing a paper together to creating a presentation based on a research project,” explains David Shapiro ’99, LVC’s director of information technology.

That flexibility is central to the entire redesign of the LTC, and the center is structured so that students can use it in whatever way is most helpful.

“We wanted to give students the ability to use the center in a variety of ways, whether it’s working on a touch-screen computer, in one of the collaborative spaces, or using your own technology stretched out on a couch,” Shapiro says, adding that the center’s renovations were built around data on student usage gathered over previous years. “We looked at how many students enter the room, what computers they typically go to, and what software they used, and we built the space around that data,” he explains, noting that students seem to especially appreciate the couches, chairs, and ottomans available for individual or group work. “We really wanted to have this room breathing and livable, not a stuffy place where everyone sits in a row and writes a paper.”

The LTC is already quite popular on campus, with up to 600 individual logins each day—a figure Shapiro says probably underestimates the center’s actual usage, since it doesn’t take into account collaborative groups or those who work from their own laptops.

Shapiro adds that the LTC is just one of many ways in which the College is continuing to offer the latest in technology to students. “We are continually monitoring the technology needs of our students and looking toward where technology and industry trends are moving,” he says.

From adding new technology-oriented concentrations to the digital communications major, such as the user-design concentration, to helping faculty incorporate technology into their daily curriculum, LVC strives to stay ahead of the technology curve so that students have a distinct advantage when they enter the global economy.

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