Evaluation of Equipment
Other than a few installation glitches in the first two weeks, the room
equipment functioned without fail. Sample problems:
- Learned which variety of projectors worked (bright enough, compatible
- Each group learned which wall to project upon
- Learned how to make Visual Cafe + Hartley Java classes work. Students
established a Java environment from their "network disk" allowing
them to access it even though the laptops were wiped clean of local
- Through an oversight, WebCT server not tied into campus time service,
so timed relase of files not initially coordinated with wall clock!
While the room is very good for group work, it is not very good for standard
lecturing. Part of this is due to the shape of the room (long and narrow),
as well as the arrangement of the cluster tables. The tables had originally
been freely movable, with the laptops required to run on batteries and
with wireless networking, but the extra cost of several batteries per
computer and the occasional need for faster networking, required us to
lock the tables together into a
less malleable configuration. Thus it is not easy to rearrange the room
so that the tables are all facing the instructor and a projector screen.
- Performances on exams and final grades comparable to prior versions
of class (by same instructor, using same textbook, and similar assignments
- Some student comments were very enthusiastic (more hands on).
Other students expressed a desire for some amount of conventional lecturing.
- Student comments on room were generally positive.
- Group exercises mean more grading: the instructor behind in grading
of group exercises, so whatever benefits there were came from the doing,
not from the improvements made via feedback.
- Security issues: room kept locked when not in use due to walkability
of wireless cards and laptops.
- We didn't perform a formal evaluation or comparison with prior versions
Evaluation of the group lab concept
- Drexel students quickly learn to operate in groups in a paper-minimal
environment, using the laptops to view course materials, develop and
upload/download programs and written responses/presentations.
- For group exercises, they came to favor the whiteboard, but also use
the projector to help view documents of interest to the group. The projection
facility is particularly used when showing work to the instructor as
he makes his rounds.
- Paper did not completely disappear -- students were encouraged to
bring the textbook to class as it was not available on-line.