New Labs Make Group Work Easier

By Alissa Condra, Annie Gorman, and Kathryn Vollstedt

Laptop cart

Laptop cart

Group work. It's one aspect of classes that students in the College of Business can count on every course, every semester. Now, thanks to new labs in Schneider Hall, groups will be able to work together.

One new lab isn't a room or a physical space, but a cart that holds enough laptop computers for a classroom of 40 students. Professors check-out this mobile computer lab anytime they want to incorporate computer group work into class time. Most of the same software found on the desktop computers in the college's labs is available on the laptops.

BCOM professor Paula Lentz is one of many COB professors who frequently use the portable laptop lab. "My BCOM 206 classes have a hard time getting in the COB labs because they are used by other classes," said Lentz. "Now students can learn how to write by actually engaging in writing while they are in class. The laptop lab provides a hands-on learning experience for students I couldn't provide otherwise."

"The laptop lab provides a hands-on learning experience for students that I couldn't provide otherwise."

- Professor Paula Lentz

Another computing innovation will take place over the summer when the Cargill Business Telecommunications computer lab, located in Schneider 203, is remodeled. Designed to facilitate student interaction, the new lab will have more of a lounge feel, according to Dawna Drum, COB coordinator of instructional technology. Students will be able to check out laptops, and rearrange mobile white boards and furniture to meet their group’s needs. Funding for the lab came from Cargill and a state of Wisconsin grant that matches private gifts made to the university for technology.

Most of the brainstorming for both of these projects started with Drum. The laptop cart idea began when she noticed professors using the labs more frequently, leaving other students without a general access lab available. After several discussions with the College of Business Dean's Council and COB faculty, the laptop cart became available at the start of the fall 2006 semester. Drum also had a major role in the design of the new 203 lab. "It was really neat being able to start from scratch and come up with new ideas," says Drum.

The laptop carts are already being used by many professors and will continue to increase in popularity. The Cargill Business Telecommunication Lab, which is currently only available to information systems classes and majors, will be opened to all business and health care administration faculty and students as of the fall 2007 semester.

Alissa Condra is a senior IS major from Rhinelander, WI. Annie Gorman from Menomonie, WI, and Kathryn Vollstedt from Appleton, WI, are December 2006 UW-Eau Claire graduates of the marketing program. They wrote this article for a BCOM 306 class project.

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