This is a question that comes up regularly in courses I attend. The answer from the ‘people in the know’ is usually “No.” The key reason for this seems to be the assumption that schools are stuck in the dark ages of the 1990s where the only use of technology was an hour each week timetabled and rigid! Of course, this is not how technology should be taught or used to enhance learning. That said, I believe that if used correctly, the IT Suite is still a very valuable facility to have in school. Let’s consider the advantages of a Suite: it is a room, inevitably with hard-wired PCs or laptops which tend to work more reliably than some laptop trolleys, they don’t run out of charge and can be set up prior to use with minimum fuss or worry from the teacher who has just finished an English lesson and after computing will be teaching maths or science! A school with a designated ‘hub’ for computing shows a commitment to IT.
If a school is considering whether or not to spend out on an upgrade on a Suite, I’d recommend considering the following questions: Do you have an effective wireless network and mobile technologies in place to ensure that IT truly is flexible in the school? Can you spare the room for a designated IT area? If the answer to both is ‘yes’ then I would continue to invest in IT Suite. If the choice is to spend on mobile techs or a Suite, go for the mobile techs as priority, as flexibility in this day and age must be a priority.