Workshop 12 – Putting it all Together

Your workshops (and many other classes in different degrees) take place in student labs. Your task this week is to design an interactive workspace within the lab that would facilitate individual work, group work, and classes.

Who are your users, what are they like, and what do they need?

Students, Teaching staff, and other academics.

What tasks do they need to be able to achieve?

  • Research information
  • Complete assignments, and course work
  • Collaborate on group work
  • Word processing, programming
  • Image creation and editing

What technology is readily available to support their tasks?

  • Software to project a particular workstation screen
  • Graphics tablet
  • Apple computer dual booted
  • Operating Systems
  • Programming IDE’s
  • Word processing software
  • Image processing software
  • Collaboration software
  • Reliable decent Internet access
  • A way to project your screen on the projector
  • Wifi access

What constraints exist on this technology and their tasks?

(for example, physical room layout, visibility of screens, accessibility needs etc)

  • Must maintain workstation numbers
  • Must support both Mac and windows operating systems

Use design tools to outline your ideas.

The Problem

We identified that many students use their own laptops, and these numbers seem to be on the increase.  Having the desks occupied by computers hinders the efforts of students with personal laptops.  Yet, there are situations where all machines in a lab are required by the students, such as assessed labs in programming 1 and 2.

We also recognised that the current system allows projection from the “teachers” computer, but often in classes students need to project for presentations.  This results in alot of wasted time as files are copied to memory sticks or emailed, only to find the files are corrupt or missing.

The Solution

Our solution is to use collapsible workstations in the labs, which allow the lab computer to be completely folded into the desk, providing a free desktop. This provides the maximum of flexibility for students using personal laptops or paperwork.

A workstation for rack mounting in a data centre.
A workstation for rack mounting in a data centre.

Inspired by the workstations found in datacentre computer racks, the workstation will be a folding screen (much like a laptop screen) but with a desktop fixed to the outside.  This provides a sturdy desktop for any use, while protecting the lab computer.  keyboard and mouse are recessed into the desk, and enclosed completely when the screen is closed.  Power is provided at the back of the desktop in flush mount power outlets.

Collapsible workstation with folding screen.
Collapsible workstation with folding screen.

We also suggested the ability to project from any computer in the lab by using the existing technology of “screen over IP” which many new projectors have.  In this way, any screen can be directed to the projector on demand.