Beyond Bytes: A Peek into the Revamped E-194 Computer Lab at Henry Ford College
In the ever-progressing realm of educational technology, institutions find themselves at a crossroads of adaptation, seeking innovative solutions to engage, empower, and meet the needs of their students. At Henry Ford College (HFC), the Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department has recently upgraded its computer lab in building E, room E-194. To shed light on this development, Kimberly Moscardelli, an instructor in the CIS Department, shared insights into the motivation behind the renovation and the exciting features that make this new space a hub for collaboration, learning, and innovation.
Originally existing for over two decades, the computer lab underwent a significant change. Moscardelli shared that the initial setup was a sea of computers, primarily catering to students who needed access to computing resources. However, with the advent of personal laptops making dedicated computer spaces less necessary and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the lab underwent strategic changes. The pandemic forced schools everywhere to rethink how they do things. At HFC, this meant reimagining the computer lab. In response, the lab was reimagined to become a versatile space that accommodates hybrid learning needs, catering to students with both on-campus and virtual classes. Moscardelli shared a compelling vision—to craft a space that seamlessly integrates with the lifestyle of the modern student. No longer confined to a computer-centric identity, the lab emerged as a multifunctional sanctuary, adaptable to the demands of hybrid learning, providing both a focused in-person setting and a virtual extension for remote scholars. Moscardelli emphasized the need for a soft space where students could seamlessly transition between on-campus and virtual classes. She described the lab as a sanctuary for those taking hybrid classes, providing a quiet and focused environment.
The new lab is not merely a space for computers; it’s a hub for collaboration, learning, and relaxation. The lab now offers a mix of traditional computer stations and high-top tables, providing flexibility for students to work individually or collaboratively. Comfy chairs, both left and right-handed tables, and even cup holders are part of the makeover. Recognizing the changing dynamics of education, the lab was designed to serve students taking hybrid classes, allowing them to comfortably participate in online sessions. It has expanded its services to offer tutoring in various disciplines, including computer science, networking, accounting, and more. It is even equipped with amenities such as a Keurig coffee machine, free for students, snacks, and plenty of places to charge mobile devices.
While historically a CIS department lab, the space has now broadened its reach to include the entire college community. Beyond computer science, the lab accommodates various disciplines, including accounting, computer-aided design (CAD), and networking. Moreover, it serves as a tutoring hub, providing support for computer literacy and software applications.
The renovation took into account the diverse needs of students. Moscardelli highlighted efforts to improve accessibility, including removing trip hazards and providing software like JAWS for students with visual impairments. The lab aims to be an inclusive space where every student feels welcome and supported.
The new computer lab isn’t just about coursework; it’s a space for community engagement. Moscardelli mentioned events such as Manufacturing Day and employer sessions, turning the lab into a platform for students to connect with industry professionals and explore career opportunities. Secluded areas equipped with multiple monitors allow for group projects and discussions. The lab is not merely a workspace; it is designed to encourage students to collaborate, share ideas, and build a sense of community.
Looking ahead, Moscardelli expressed aspirations for more student involvement and collaboration. The lab aims to host diverse events, potentially involving students in ongoing development and management. The goal is to make the lab a vibrant and dynamic space that fosters not only academic growth but also community engagement.
One challenge lies in increasing awareness and utilization of the lab. Strategies include updating the college’s homepage with lab hours and information, reaching out to instructors, and potentially hosting more events in the space to attract students.
Moscardelli believes that the revitalized computer lab at HFC stands as a symbol of the institution’s commitment to providing students with cutting-edge facilities that align with contemporary learning needs.
The lab is conveniently located near parking lots 4 and 5, which tend to be less crowded than other parking lots on campus. The entrance also is near a nature preserve with a beautiful walkway and fountain.
The E-194 lab is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information on the lab and upcoming events, contact E-194 lab technician, Michael Wells, at firstname.lastname@example.org.