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December 21, 2006


Stephanie Sandifer


I haven't had a chance to see the new Wired issue -- so I'm commenting here based on my experience with art education.

I think in many instances, virtual labs WILL replace real science labs in the future. This will be a good and bad thing, but it will happen.

In Houston, Texas all new schools (new construction) are not allowed to put in photography darkrooms and we are only allowed to set up computer labs for digital photography. This is mandated for financial and safety reasons -- no more purchasing expensive chemicals that can be hazardous and that eventually have to be disposed of and replaced. Plus -- the computer lab can serve multiple purposes while the chemical darkroom can only serve one.

I see this as a direct parallel to science labs. They are more expensive and less-cost-effective than multi-purpose computer labs that can be used for other classes when science class aren't scheduled. Between the space constraints and expense of purchasing equipment and consumable supplies, I think some administrators will see this as a no-brainer. This also solves the "lab location problem" for schools-within-a-school where they need a science lab in each house or pod.

From your school-design perspective, do you already see a trend in this direction (like the chemical darkrooms I described above)?


Diana Laufenberg

For me it's as simple as saying that if you've flown through the Grand Canyon in Google Earth, it's the same as having gone there. It's not. I am glad however, that if it is the only way for people to visit the canyon, that they at least have the virtual experience.

Virtual will be more efficient, in both time and money. The thing is that virtual many bring more wide and various experiences to students in a variety of locations, thus expanding access to the information. For that reason I think that the trend will be towards virtual, but will never match the real live experience.

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