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Comment How I Made My High School Lab (Score 5, Informative) 268

I am also a high school computer teacher, and our building got renovated about three years ago. I was able to ask for lots of goodies too, but be prepared for the contractors to ignore whatever suggestions you make.

That being said, there were a few important elements I insisted on. One is that I could see all the students' screens from a central location. Mostly that meant having all the PCs facing outward against three walls, with me in the middle. This was a huge improvement over the back-to-back rows we had before. The downside is that kids have to turn around if they need to see the board or the teacher.

My class is in the Career and Technical Education school, so I'm training kids to be sysadmins, programmers, and technicians. Due to the nature of the class, we have a central rack with networking equipment that's easy for the kids to crowd around. If this is something you need, make sure there's plenty of space on all sides, and use a cable tray to bring in the wiring. Also, I asked for power to be dropped from the ceiling to the center of the room so we could setup work benches to troubleshoot hardware. (That's one of the things they neglected to give me.)

Natural light is a wonderful thing, but I wouldn't worry too much about glare as long as you don't have shiny glass screens. If students will be sitting in front of these things for an hour or more at a stretch, good (and large) LCD displays will reduce eye strain. Similarly, don't expect kids to sit in crappy chairs for long periods of time. But don't get swivel rolling chairs; they'll just race and spin in them.

Probably the most used piece of technology in my room is the projector. I'd definitely get a decent one and install it where everyone can see it. I also like to be mobile in my lab, so I've got an iPad to walk around with and take notes on student work.

As long as you've got space to spare, give students as much elbow room as possible. High school kids need a little personal space so they don't get on each others' nerves. Also, more space per PC makes it easier for students to work in small groups, as they can gather three or four people around one PC.

I've got some software I'm partial to, as well. It's nice having something like Faronics Insight in the lab, which allows me to monitor what everyone is looking at, limit Internet access, or share my screen with everyone. I'm not tied to that particular brand (thought it's what I'm using right now, and works on PCs and Macs), but rather any software system that has those functions.

My lab is due to be upgraded in a year or two. I might go with laptops if it's in the budget, but we've got to work out accountability (for theft), upgradability, and a few other issues. I certainly wish I had one or two for myself, though.

I hope this helps some.

Comment Re:I abstain (Score 1) 794

Yes, even those who abstain by not showing up. Failure to even show up is a vote of no confidence in the system itself...

Slow down there. Failure to vote *can* be such a statement, but I find it to be a rare occurrence for anyone to actively not vote. Lack of voting is the result of apathy, with a pinch of disenfranchisement mixed it.

Voter turnout in the US sucks, and it sucks that it sucks, and it needs to be fixed. I'm no expert on how to fix it, but I've got some ideas that involve marketing to people's ideals about civic pride (or creating those ideals, perhaps.)

I've helped in my share of voter drives, and I serve as the Inspector of a local voting district. Those people that show up feel it's their duty to vote. Those that don't simply don't feel a sense of duty; they feel inconvenienced.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Music execs criticise DRM systems


Almost two-thirds of music industry executives think removing digital locks from downloadable music would make more people buy the tracks, finds a survey.



Submission + - Cuba Embraces Open-Source Software

An anonymous reader writes: From The Washington Post (by way of the Associated Press): "Cuba's communist government is trying to shake off the yoke of at least one capitalist empire — Microsoft Corp. — by joining with socialist Venezuela in converting its computers to open-source software." Cuba's Communications Minister, Ramiro Valdes, has "called the world's information systems a "battlefield" where Cuba is fighting against imperialism."

Congress Tackles Patent Reform 261

nadamsieee writes "Wired's Luke O'Brian recently reported about Congress' latest attempt to reform the patent system. In the article O'Brian tells of how 'witnesses at Thursday's hearing painted a bleak picture of that system. Adam Jaffe, a Brandeis University professor and author of a book on the subject, described the system as 'out of whack.' Instead of 'the engine of innovation,' the patent has become 'the sand in the gears,' he said, citing widespread fears of litigation. The House Oversight Committee website has more details. How would you fix the patent system?"

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