Checklist for Designing a Technology-Friendly Classroom
Technology integration has never been more pervasive in classrooms nationwide, with computers becoming a fundamental teaching tool for students of all ages. In light of this, teachers and principals have realized that structuring the physical layout of a classroom is almost as important as knowing which technological solution to choose. There are five key issues that are critical when designing technology-enhanced classrooms for primary-age children:
- The design of the entire classroom needs to be considered when deciding the placement of the technology center. Early childhood classrooms are usually designed around learning centers; however, there are some centers in an early childhood classroom that are not compatible with a technology area and should be distanced from an area designated for technology. Technology centers, for example, shouldn’t be placed in proximity to either the sand and water play area or the art area because sand, water, paint, glue and glitter do not mix well with computers.
- The literacy area/technology center needs to be the quietest area in the classroom. A technology center should always be placed away from common classroom distractions, near a quiet area such as the literacy center or, even better, in the literacy center, where lots of reading skill development and writing can take place on the computer. Conversely, computers and technology can be a distraction to classroom activities, so make sure that the technology center will not disturb others.
- Consider the physical layout of the classroom, from electricity to windows, when laying out where computers are placed. While it may seem obvious, consider the location of electrical outlets and windows when placing computers in the classroom. Computers that are too far from outlets require extension chords that can become a tripping hazard. On the other hand, if they are too close to windows, the resulting glare could make it more difficult to use these tools. In addition, remember if Internet access is important, obviously the technology center needs to be near a telephone jack.
- Furniture should be age-appropriate, so order computer stations and tables sized specifically for young children. A common mistake many schools make is buying computer tables and chairs that are too big for young children and then modifying this furniture to “fit.” This can limit the utility of a piece of furniture and potentially compromise its safety. A more prudent solution is to purchase age-appropriate computer tables and chairs that are adjustable.
- Always consult with the classroom teacher before designing or modifying a classroom for technology. Educational technologists are often more knowledgeable about technology; however, before any purchase is made, the technologist should consult with the classroom teacher to assess their needs and understand how they plan to use the technology. The most effective early childhood classrooms have learning areas that are clearly defined and appropriately placed.
- By Virginia Murphy and Patricia Hayes, Childcraft
Childcraft provides free educational consulting to anyone designing an early childhood classroom or redesigning a classroom to accommodate a technology area. For more information, call (800) 631-5652.
This article originally appeared in the 10/01/2004 issue of THE Journal.