Rethinking the computer lab


Meghan Krein

IgnitED Labs — located at Tempe, Polytechnic and West campuses — are hands-on, creative spaces filled with new and emerging technologies that aim to assist Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College students, staff and faculty members with teaching and learning. Tempe and Polytechnic labs are open now, and the West lab will be open mid-September. 

Sean Leahy

The new labs were designed to go beyond the scope of a traditional computer lab. Sean Leahy, director of technology initiatives says, “One of the first things you’ll notice when you walk in, is that you don’t see the traditional setup of a terminal or workstation computers. What you do see is a mixture of different types of experiential technology. So while we do have some computers, they’re hooked up to things like a virtual reality machine and 3D printers.” In addition, the labs are also equipped with laser printing, internet of things devices, coding and programmable devices, and multimedia equipment for visual and audio production. 

“While we do have the tools out there to play with and explore,” says Leahy, “the real power of the space — when it comes to our students — is that it’s meant to strengthen a deeper connection to the process of learning with technology.” Some students gaining that connection now are those enrolled in EDT 180 – Technology Literacy: Problem Solving and Digital Technology Applications. Through a course redesign, lab experiences are now integrated into the curriculum. These students are discovering how emerging technologies influence learning. By visiting the labs, they are able to explore the technologies included in the course.

Jodie Donner

Faculty members are encouraged to collaborate with the IgnitED Lab team to design course experiences and schedule a visit. The team also offers professional learning sessions, one-on-one guidance and open exploration, while Education Technology Champions (student workers in the labs) are on-hand to assist visitors. Jodie Donner, lead technology strategist and head of IgnitED Labs says, "Upcoming workshops for instructors will include methods for integrating emerging technologies into course assignments and the possibilities for conducting research based on these course experiences." 

Students (in all courses) and staff are invited to visit and incorporate the labs into their work, too. “These spaces are for our community. If you are working on an assignment, if you want to try a tool out or if you just want to hang out and work because it’s an awesome space and you think it boosts your productivity, that’s great. We want patrons to feel of the lab akin to what they might feel of the library — to have some ownership of it,” says Leahy. 

Learn more about IgnitED Labs

For lab use or programming requests, contact Jodie Donner.

Find dates and descriptions of lab workshops on the MLFTC calendar