Construction of space in computer labs

I was reading this article about online courses on the MindShift blog today. It starts off with this image.

What a horribly depressing vision of a computer lab. While it is how the lab in my high school and those at Whitman were set up it nevertheless seems like such an utter failure at creating a place where students can collaborate around digital content.

In addition to the great firewall problem of web access in schools perhaps a large reason why online courses and digital initiatives fail is because they are forced into spaces like this.

This is what makes me most excited about the role iPads could play in schools. The opposite of a desktop machine, an iPad would allow students to engage with content without having to sit in straight rows with nothing in front of them but a monitor.

If a school could create socially designed spaces for their computers they might be surprised by the type of learning that happens.