Greg Mansur
Associate Professor of Professional Practice

How large should a training lab be?

How large should a training lab be? 10 workstations? 20 workstations? 30 workstations? 40 workstations?

I teach motion graphics/Photoshop and After Effects, in a lab with 12 workstations. Each semester I have one or two students who have difficulty grasping concepts during hands on lectures. I will give them direct attention then suggest they meet after class for 1 on 1. I need to keep to the syllabus moving. Sometimes a workstation will have technical problems. I have a backup workstation for this very reason. Between slow students and technical problems I find 12 workstations manageable. (slow students are not stupid...often quite brilliant).

Administration wants to expand to 24 workstations. I suggest we keep it at 12 and teach two sections per semester. The lab is under utilized and can handle more classes.

Is there an optimal number of workstations for teaching? 


Greg Mansur

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Chris Schnell

Posted on 11/24/14 12:48:00 PM Permalink

Hi Greg
I think it depends on the room set up and how the computers are arranged to allow for a collaborative learning environment where students can support each others. I think over 20 is pushing it.
Good luck.

Greg Mansur

Posted on 11/24/14 11:26:40 PM Permalink

I like the idea of students supporting each other but each semester brings a different group of students (all FTDM majors) but not all are willing to share their knowledge (sometimes 'Knowledge is Power' turns into a tug of war). I use the Apple Remote app through an instructor workstation/video projector that is great for sharing the process of critical thinking and problem resolution.

Jessica Gauci

Posted on 11/24/14 11:21:23 AM Permalink

It all depends on the school, amount of kids (or adults) enrolled in the course, age / maturity of students, available technology etc. I think 12 workstations would be ideal for more one on one teaching. I currently have 20 set up and I sometimes find it difficult with junior students as they usually require more assistance. There are strategies you could implement such as having the more advanced students assisting the lower ability students and maintenance. You can then reward them for their assistance and support either at the end of the week or term.

Greg Mansur

Posted on 11/24/14 11:32:16 PM Permalink

I'd love to have a graduate student work with me but our Dept of Film TV and Digital Media lacks a graduate program. I do use the Apple Desktop Remote app to demonstrate individual student problems to the whole class, which is helpful, but working with a students green screen project and animated masks turns into a 1 on 1 exercise (I think they mentally check out if it's not their project).

Colin Byers

Posted on 11/24/14 5:02:19 AM Permalink

Hi Greg,

My lab has 28 stations (iMacs). I tend to think that my lab spreads my help thin at times. However, I've found that by providing technical tutorials and assignments via youtube it makes me available for more students. Often I give 1 to 1 help while others review the videos I've made or links to other sources. But I do find far better student learning and projects in smaller classes. It simply affords more time for help and student/teacher collaboration. I'd say 12 stations would be ideal, anything beyond 18 may be pushing it.

Greg Mansur

Posted on 11/24/14 11:37:45 PM Permalink

Working for a private University (TCU) that prides itself on a low teach/student ration, your feedback is quite welcome. I'm in need of stats on what is an optimal number. If I had 28 workstations I'd never get through a lecture without permission errors or login errors or corrupt apps or system crashes. (IT works their butts off on this...I'm well supported). Teaching Motion Graphics with AE, Photoshop, Mocha and Cinema 4D, requires a lot of user time to fully grasp each application and how they can be integrated.