Computer lab projects forward

This is the second story in a three-part series on technology in area schools

LE GRAND – A computer lab, by nature, is typically high-tech. The lab at East Marshall High School is set for a boost forward in the field.

The school will debut a TILE classroom at the Le Grand facility in January.

It stands for Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage. It will feature four to five projectors shooting screens of information all over the room. TILE classrooms help students with collaboration when working on projects and provide more engaged learning.

“The idea is putting the learning in front of everyone,” said East Marshall Principal Rex Kozak. “You can see the different work by the different groups.”

The first classes in this new type of classroom will be accounting and advanced computers, taught by Mike Mallas.

“I’m hoping to make it as seamless as possible,” Mallas said. “Education is going to go on. It won’t be disturbed.”

Mallas said one benefit of the program is it will help students learn who may be too shy to ask questions. If they see another student having the same problem they can learn together as it is projected on the wall.

“I can show it to them simultaneously,” Mallas said. “We can put it up on the board and they can see what the problem is.”

Kozak said the classroom renovation will be paid by a Perkins Grant, which is federal money designated for career and technical programs.

East Marshall English teacher Traci Azbell took a course at the University of Iowa in a TILE classroom and is helping the high school bring this classroom on board.

“It really enables project-based learning and collaboration,” said Azbell. “There’s so much more that can be done at one time.”

Kozak said he believes this is the only TILE classroom project in the state. He said he hopes to expand the program to include more classrooms and classes at the high school in the future.

Mallas said much of the learning with the system will be on the fly – but that’s what the field of education is about.

“To me, it’s an interesting challenge,” Mallas said.

Tim Nunnikhoven, technology director at East Marshall, said he is excited to bring this project to fruition.

“This stuff is awesome,” Nunnikhoven said. “This is a new and innovative project.”