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Education IT

Best IT Solution For a Brand-New School? 411

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-eniac-per-child dept.
Iain writes "I'm a teacher at a British 'City Academy' (ages 11-19) that is going to move into a new building next year. Management is deciding now on the IT that the students will use in the new building, as everything will be built from scratch. Currently, the school has one ICT suite per department, each containing about 25-30 PCs. My issue with this model is that it means these suites are only rarely used for a bit of googling or typing up assignments, not as interactive teaching tools. The head likes the idea of moving to a thin client solution, with the same one room per department plan, as he see the cost benefits. However, I have seen tablet PCs used to great effect, with every single classroom having 20-30 units which the students use as 'electronic workbooks,' for want of a better phrase. This allows every lesson to fully utilize IT (multimedia resources, Internet access, instant handout and retrieval of learning resources, etc.) and all work to be stored centrally. My question is: In your opinion, what is the best way for a school to use IT (traditional computer lab, OLPCs, etc.) and what hardware is out there to best serve that purpose? Fat clients for IT/Media lessons and thin client for the rest? Thin client tablets? Giving each student a laptop to take home? Although, obviously, cost is an issue, we have a significant budget, so it should not be the only consideration."
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Best IT Solution For a Brand-New School?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:15PM (#26598963)

    The old lab model is dead. Take your 20-30 computers, make them laptops, and available for any classroom use the teachers need. If demands becomes such that you can't meet demand, then you buy more. Add wireless throughout the place, and you should be set.

    • Schools are particularly vulnerable to pilfering and burglary, so if you do have laptops make sure you have some physical means of securing them. Same deal for other equipment.

      If you are putting in a new school-wide network then wifi is probably a good idea. Just remember that every kid/teacher with a wifi-capable cell phone will try to use it too.

      If the school is being wired from scratch then put a couple of Cat6s into every classroom. These can always be reticulated withion a classroom with switches or wi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kizeh (71312)

        Many vendors, such as HP and Dell, sell cabinets on wheels for laptops meant for classrooms. The laptops dock within the cabinet, so they can always be fully charged and connected to the network for maintenance without hassle of power adapters and plugging them in. You wheel the cabinet in the class, hand out the laptops, do your thing, collect the laptops, put them back in the cabinet, lock the door, done.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by liquidpele (663430)

      The old lab model is dead. Take your 20-30 computers, make them laptops, and available for any classroom use the teachers need.

      Nooooooooooo!

      This is a *horrible* idea. The laptops are never used, because the battery ends up lasting about 1 hour - far less than is possibly useful for the class to get anything done. You have a few possibilities that will work:

      1) Labs - pain because teachers spend 10-15 minutes of class just getting the kids there and back.

      2) few computers in class - pain because not everyone can use them at once, but if you break the class up into groups with stations, they can be effective for such situati

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firethorn (177587)

        1. When I was in school, classes were 50 minutes, I don't imagine this has changed much. 1 hour would be sufficient. Besides, especially with a large budget, you'd simply provide an outlet beside each desk., or even go to desks with the outlets in them.

        2. Computers today are cheap enough to provide one to each student, even if it's only for a few classes.

        3. Now this IS a concern for me - you can't just buy consumer level laptops, they'll take far too much abuse over the course of a year. This happened

        • by KillerBob (217953) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:40PM (#26601285)

          I wouldn't go 100% with *thin* clients, but some smarts would be quite adequate. Set up one or two superservers, and a whole bunch of VIA C7 boxen with cheap 17" LCD's and the barest hard drive. Just enough to boot up an X server and connect via XDMCP to t he superserver. That way you can set them up without any optical drives, and safely keep the USB disconnected. You don't really need to worry that the terminal is underpowered, as long as the network that it's connecting to has the bandwidth for XDMCP.... 100mbit (which every C7-board I've ever seen has onboard) is more than adequate... maybe connected into a gigabit or 10gbit switched connection to the server.... client to switch is 100mbit, switch to server is gigabit.

          They run quiet, they run cold, and nobody in their right mind would steal them. :) They also use very little electricity, and are dirt cheap... you can put together a client similar to what I'm proposing for $200 per unit... That could be an enormous savings in implementing the system (just because the math is easy, and it's in the ballpark, I'll assume $500 per desktop/laptop)... even if you design around one server per 10 clients (realistically, any single server should be able to handle closer to 20-30 clients under load), that's still $3000 per server that you get to play with to keep the same budget. You can buy a lot of computer for $3000... my current superserver cost less than 1/3 of that, and it's got a quad core 2.5GHz processor, a 1.5TB RAID, and 8GB of RAM. (bought it in March 2008). Set up roaming profiles so that the servers can handle the same user connecting to potentially more than one server, and you're off to the races.

          • by Firethorn (177587) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:33PM (#26601769) Homepage Journal

            I deal with actual thin net clients at work; they can be had even cheaper than those C7 boxes, and probably use even less energy. They use a small amount of flash instead of a HD for the OS and connection stuff. They don't even have fans.

            With proper software/remote systems on the back end, you don't even need 'roaming profiles', the backend handles the details of transferring clients and even sessions between servers.

            Depending on settings you can even use thumbrives with the sessions. While clients are available with CD drives; ours deliberately don't.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Daengbo (523424)

            He really needs to look at K12LTSP [k12ltsp.org] and get on the mailing list [redhat.com] for this question. It has been asked quite a few times in the last seven years.

    • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:17PM (#26599481) Journal

      Use blackboards or interactive white boards. Teach basic subjects. IT as a subject in British schools is deeply flawed. Teach English, not Microsoft Word. Teach maths, not Excel spreadsheets. IT is a nightmare to teach to unwilling kids in a school and relatively pointless. So children really need lessons on Word?
      • by berend botje (1401731) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:23PM (#26599521)
        And get the kids to learn the curriculum, not how to fake it by Wikipedi-ing the answers and surfing for porn the rest of the class.

        Computers in the classroom add nothing.

        If anything, use the old lab model. That way the kids aren't distracted when learning normal stuff.
        • by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:24PM (#26600107) Homepage

          Computers with chat programs and web browsers are a massive distraction, yes.

          Maybe the routers in the classrooms could block access to msn, facebook, etc.

          That wouldn't stop them from surfing for porn though.

      • by hattig (47930) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:18PM (#26600055) Journal

        Damn right.

        I don't think there was a problem with blackboards and chalk for learning, computers were for IT lessons, not for every lesson. They are incredibly distracting machines.

        The teachers should have one, to find and get resources for lessons. Indeed a projector + screen for each classroom makes sense, under the teacher's control. I suggest Linux + OpenOffice for presentations, or Macs + iWork (KeyNote), because a teacher cannot risk Windows, cannot risk the chance of getting bad software like that poor teacher in the US that got fired and nearly got 40 years for using a hijacked computer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ghetto2ivy (1228580)

        Interactive whiteboards are crap. There is little teaching theory behind there effective use. They can't be used as regular whiteboards when computers or networks are down or bulbs burn out, and they lock you into proprietary formats that will burn you if you ever want or need to switch.

        If I had to do the same, and someday I may, I'd load up a customized linux distro on netbooks and have them available on carts. Save your money for the good classroom projectors, splurge on the network -- buy good routers,

      • by johnw (3725) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:06PM (#26600503)

        IT as a subject in British schools is deeply flawed.

        You're not kidding. ICT (as they call it) as taught at GCSE level is an almost totally made up subject. If you went in to an exam with, say, just 20 years of experience in software development then you'd pass but you wouldn't get a top grade. To do that you need to learn the parallel world of the ICT examiner.

        An example question - sorry I don't have the paper here so I can't quote it verbatim, but the essence is correct.

        "Given a computer and an Internet connection, what else do you need to be able to access the web?"

        First thoughts about this question tend to come up with all sorts of possible answers. You can be silly and say "a monitor", or "a mains lead for the computer", but then you settle down and try to think of sensible answers. Discarding, "an operating system" I settled on "a web browser".

        Trouble is, it was a multiple choice question and that wasn't one of the options. I can't remember all the options now but I can tell you that the right answer (in the parallel world of GCSE ICT) was, "An ISP".

        Huh! Hang on a minute - you said I'd already got an Internet connection. Apparently not - in the parallel world of the examiners you can have an Internet connection without having an ISP, and said Internet connection won't work until you identify an ISP.

        It's a very silly subject, and teaches practically nothing about real IT. It's more a training course in how to use Microsoft Office.

        • by mpeskett (1221084) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:31PM (#26603075)

          I took that GCSE a couple of years back... there's a handful of multiple choice questions from the exam that I won't forget quickly.

          One described a service similar to Google Earth (same basic thing but without the brand name) and asked why it couldn't be used by the police to catch criminals. Alongside the correct answers that it wasn't real-time and didn't have high enough resolution there was "because criminals could hide under umbrellas" and "because you could only catch fat criminals, not thin ones"

          Another was to tick all the true statements about RFID chips... as well as the sensible ones there was the absolute gem, "You shouldn't keep too many close together in case they join together and form an evil network". No joke, their words not mine. Evil network.

          Over the course of the past papers we did we gradually learned the stock answers that the examiners were looking for... truly was a parallel world that they were living in.

          Seems our school had realised that it was a shitty course - ours was the last year before they switched to a different exam board's IT course, with a different syllabus that was apparently much better.

    • by Tobenisstinky (853306) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:08PM (#26599949)
      Nooooo! We deployed wireless as a solution w/laptops...worst decision ever made. Wireless is fine for the home with 1-5 clients, but with a classroom full, speed is pitiful. Unless you plan for 5-6 access points per room, don't do it. Also battery life is fine when the units are new, and there are also issues with users remembering to recharge them when done, theft, damage, etc. Desktops are much better. On that note, the iMacs are great. All in one unit, and you can 'secure' everything with one cable-tie IMHO
    • Backbone (Score:3, Insightful)

      I would start with wiring the building and then if you have a need to establish a lab, then you simply add local switches as necessary. I realise that there is a move to wireless networks, but they don't achieve the necessary speeds for certain applications, and prevents you from easily making your network secure. While this may not matter to students, for the administration this may be an issue. Once you have your physical infrastructure in place, then depending on usage requirements, you add severs and PC

  • by onion2k (203094) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:16PM (#26598965) Homepage

    I'm UK taxpayer. This question highlights what I think is an endemic problem with the UK teaching system, and frankly the whole of the civil service:

    This sort of thing shouldn't even be up for debate.

    Developing this sort of infrastructure on a school-by-school basis is incredibly stupid. There should have been a central government review of the options prior to the latest run of school building, and a proper IT spending policy should have been worked out then. Having the decision made by the headteacher and a couple of staff (only one or two of whom are likely to be remotely qualified to understand all the options) means one school ends up with a much better or worse IT system than another. That is plain wrong. It's not fair on the kids.

    To answer the question, for the love of God find out how the other schools near you have faired with their systems and copy the best one. Do not do go it alone (or alone with lots of Slashdotters).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well said, slashdot is not the place to ask this as we are not educators we are geeks. So the suggestions here are most likely going to be what would be the geeks ideal of what a school should be like.

      As onion2k says, consult other schools to find out how they utilize IT and what has proven to help with the children's education primarily in improving their learning and also secondly what has encouraged children to take an interest in technology.

      Follow the lead of others not listen to what a bunch of geeks t

    • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:31PM (#26599081)

      While I generally agree, I fear that the result would be a "one size fits all" solution, which would rigidly be implemented no matter whether you're going to use 10 or 10,000 PCs. At the very least the school board (or whatever solution the UK has for nation wide school decisions) cough up a few "suggestions", get into negotiations with nationwide supplyers of hard- and software (which should also result in some neat conditions and prices) and also some providers of maintainance. We're talking about computers for teenagers, you WILL need maintainance!

      • with hardware and software suppliers! If they do, you will end up with expensive Windows systems, and inferior commercial software with "good" prices.

        Major hardware and software vendors already have established deals for educational institutions. Linux distributions like Ubuntu are (by most accounts) superior to Windows, and cost nothing.

        My recommendation would be to use Linux and other open-source software. Open Office does most of what Microsoft Office does. There is graphics software, video-editing
    • by stranger_to_himself (1132241) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#26599097) Journal

      Developing this sort of infrastructure on a school-by-school basis is incredibly stupid. There should have been a central government review of the options prior to the latest run of school building, and a proper IT spending policy should have been worked out then. Having the decision made by the headteacher and a couple of staff (only one or two of whom are likely to be remotely qualified to understand all the options) means one school ends up with a much better or worse IT system than another. That is plain wrong. It's not fair on the kids.

      I diagree. At the moment it is not possible for the government to decide and enforce a policy, because the evidence is simply not there (regarding which way would be best) to do it.

      We need newish schools to develop and evolve their own systems so we can see what works, and ONLY THEN roll it out nationwide.

      This government is usually too quick not too slow to implement policies in healthcare and education at a national level without letting them work themselves out first. This is the real waste of money.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        You know, this is one of those areas where I wish educational systems would take a more scientific approach to these types of problems. It's pretty much the same way here in the U.S.

        There seems to be little 'method' to the ways we try to figure out the 'best' ways to integrate IT into education.

        It seems to me that in situations like this, schools could benefit from systematically applying the scientific method - Observations, Hypothesis, Prediction, Experiment, Analysis. (Repeat as necessary.)

        Start building

    • by amclay (1356377) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#26599131) Homepage Journal
      This should be decided school by school, because each school may have a different demographic, and that could quite possibly change the type and quantity of technology used.

      That being said, your suggestion at looking at other school districts and finding out what has worked for them is a great idea. Our school recently put in "Elmos," which are mounted digital cameras for projectors which were put into each room.

      Most of my teachers started using them, and they saved a lot of time, because they could show the class the pice of paper, and not have to look/get a transparency of the paper. It also gives them more options as far as showing short clips, or powerpoints, or stuff like that.
      So review:
      1) Teacher workstation in each room, with projector and an "Elmo."

      2) Computer labs, with thin or fat clients, depending on your needs.

      3) Laptop carts, so individual classes can use a set of laptops if needed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by itzdandy (183397)

        This should be decided school by school, because each school may have a different demographic, and that could quite possibly change the type and quantity of technology used.

        wow, demographics in school. is this seriously something you consider to be acceptable? demographics in school creates a division in the education level. demographics are something that is learned about in school but should not be applied to school for the purpose of learning. maybe for security, but not for learning.

        1) Teacher workstation in each room, with projector and an "Elmo."

        2) Computer labs, with thin or fat clients, depending on your needs.

        3) Laptop carts, so individual classes can use a set of laptops if needed.

        I find that having a desktop scanner/elmo scanner and a workstation at the teacher's desk with a projector is sufficient. A lot of classroom teaching requires or benefits little from the s

      • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:59PM (#26600439)

        1) Teacher workstation in each room, with projector and an "Elmo."

        2) Computer labs, with thin or fat clients, depending on your needs.

        3) Laptop carts, so individual classes can use a set of laptops if needed.

        This is the setup I would go for. We have a very similar setup in a private school of about 600 pupils. We have 4 large fixed labs (25+) which any department can use for individual lessons, including internet based classes such as ECDL and some learning support based material. Each department also has at least one mini-lab of up to 12 computers used for individual lessons.

        The individual teacher workstations plus projector, active whiteboard and dvd/vhs player + audio are probably the most effective IT in the school. We also have them in the lecture halls, for larger presentations.

        There is also one laptop cart for roving use, and we're likely to get another soon. Thin clients are fine for light-use areas, and thick clients for areas such as DT, MFL and IT. Don't forget you're going to need a beefy wifi infrastructure to support significant numbers of laptops; something like aruba, rather than a horde of crappy individual waps.

        There are two main issues. Training, and support. Without sufficient ongoing IT in education training for the teaching staff, ANY resources you put in will be underused. Equally, you MUST have sufficient IT staff to keep the labs running and the teacher whiteboard machines operational in short order, in addition to your central systems and servers staff. Keep the machines locked down tight, and use central software deployment and a quick imaging system to keep downtime to a minimum, or thin clients for the same reasons.

        Individual personal laptops/netbooks for the students will significantly increase your overheads in terms of both infrastructure and support. Most of our students have their own laptops for things like homework, but they're not integrated into lessons, given the likelyhood of them having viruses, dodgy software and the students using them to goof off in lessons. It can work for older students (6th form), but it will be a massive headache in actually trying to teach with non-school controlled laptops in the lower years.

        Server wise, I can strongly recommend a virtualised solution (we use vmware esx + SAN, but xen + management tools such as citrix also works). Don't forget to build your switch fabric robust enough for growth, including easy vlan management and layer 3 routing where needed. vlan'ing your teacher pcs away from curriculum pcs, and wireless laptops vlan'd away from everything else is hopefully a no brainer.

    • Yes because we all know how well bureaucracy makes IT decisions [slashdot.org] in the UK.
      • Yes and central planning has such as good track record we should all adopt it!

        The British government's standardisation of curricula and the greater control it has taken of schools in recent years has been such a success we want to extend it to IT!

        Personally I think it would be much more useful to spend the money of a decent library.

    • The problem with technology in school isn't the tech, but how it is shoehorned into the existing teaching atmosphere. Cramming technology in the traditional monolithic classroom doesn't gain very much. Since every child learns differently, the most effective method is one teacher/mentor per child. That doesn't fit into any public school budget, but effective use of technology can mimic that effect. Online courses, built on an open system like Moodle, can leverage your teachers time. The example of stud
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Korin43 (881732)
        I'm just posting to second Moodle. It's not really part of the computer lab, but having something online like Moodle (and actually teaching the teachers how to use it) would have been incredibly helpful during junior high and high school. In my current college classes, with the few teachers who know how to use Blackboard (seriously, don't use Blackboard, Moodle is way better), it makes things a lot easier, like having the syllabus online, having a full course schedule always available, and having homework a
    • by hoggoth (414195)

      Since you are asking here on Slashdot, I'll tell you the best thing to do.

      Forget the computer lab. Give each student their own Linux based wearable PC with heads-up display projected onto eye-glasses. Cluster all of the students together using Beowulf over a wireless mesh network. Each student will be responsible for tuning the kernel on their own unit.

      You might get a different response if you ask educators though...

    • by mollymoo (202721) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:20PM (#26599497) Journal

      Developing this sort of infrastructure on a school-by-school basis is incredibly stupid. There should have been a central government review of the options prior to the latest run of school building, and a proper IT spending policy should have been worked out then. Having the decision made by the headteacher and a couple of staff (only one or two of whom are likely to be remotely qualified to understand all the options) means one school ends up with a much better or worse IT system than another. That is plain wrong. It's not fair on the kids.

      Not fair on the kids? Forcing everybody to use exactly the same stuff is what's not fair on the kids. The school in question is a City Academy, (strictly they're just called Academies now). They are usually schools which have failed in the standard Local Education Authority framework for whatever reason. Sometimes that's down to bad management, but usually because they're in a deprived area. The one-size-fits-all approach has already failed for that school, or they wouldn't be an academy. Academies are intended to have more freedom than normal schools over things like this, so they have the freedom to apply the approaches which actually work for their kids. They will frequently not be the same approaches which work for successful Secondary schools in middle-class areas. Some schools need a better X, even if it's at the expense of an inferior Y, because that's what's best for the kids they have to teach. Not doing what's best for the kids by forcing their schools to conform to some centrally mandated policy is what would be unfair.

    • As a Yank myself. I would disagree. The biggest mistake anyone can do is a Uniformed School System, especially with details such as IT. IT infrastructure alone doesn't teach kids anything, having a government saying you need X and Y doesn't make them useful, or a good use of money.
      It is part of your own school to find what you need and what you want to achieve, once you find that then you see where technology can achieve those goals.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WarwickRyan (780794)

      Agreed, it's a complete and total waste of money.

      I'm 28, and when I was at school we often had trouble due to lack of money for text books. Yet now there's talk of giving all the kids laptops?

      Back then I'd spend my IT lessons playing games (or doing homework), as the teachers were basically clueless about everything.

      Spend the money on more teachers, or as some other posters have mentioned invest it in the science lab. Don't buy a load of PCs which'll just be used to waste time on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sinus0idal (546109)
        Somewhat unfortunately, I agree. Having fairly recently been a student at a UK city academy, AND afterwards been the IT admin in more than one, they tend to spend a massive amount of money on tech, for which the majority of teachers have no idea how to use. If anything the budget should be split in half, and half go to tech, and half go to teaching people how to use it. Hundreds of thousands spent on interactive whiteboards is pointless if no one has any idea how to use them. In addition, computers ARE
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:33PM (#26600199)

      Iain here (OP), posting as AC.

      Just to clarify, agree or not, one of the points of City Academies was to provide certain schools with the freedom to explore innovative solutions that may well be rolled out nationwide. As such we have different restrictions and resources to other local schools (which by the way are a mix of tablet only, thin client, fat client and mixed solutions).

      Personally I disgree with prescribed solution for all schools as each school has very specific needs, besides this was not the point of the question as I obviously have no input into Government policy (interesting topic, just not the one I wanted to raise).

      I'd also like to clarify that while the writeup does show my inclination to an all techology based system, it is my awareness of my personal bias that prompted me to submit this story. Taken as a whole /. has much wider and deeper experience and knowledge than I could hope to have myself, and I wanted people that disagree with me to help me clarify my thinking.

      Thanks to all respondents. I really appreciate all opinions.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by An dochasac (591582)
      Pay a visit to Bradford U.K. and check out their Sun Ray ultra thin client based infrastructure. (disclosure) I wrote the login manager but if you decide to use a Linux or OpenSolaris distribution, you can throw that out as well as the cost of (N) Microsoft Windows licenses. My back o the envelope guesstimate: Sun Ray Thin client: 4 Watts * 2000 desktops * 200 days * 8 hours = 12800 Kwh * .1p/kwh = 1280. Typical P.C.: 80 Watts * 2000 * 200 days * 8 hours = 25600 Kwh * .1p/kwh = 25600 You can probably
  • Tablet Cart, plz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shbazjinkens (776313) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#26598999)

    I don't have as much faith in a computer for every student, in every class.

    If it's anything like my college courses in the states, a lot of time might need to be devoted to keeping students on task, instead of checking social networking sites during class. Maybe things are different in Britain, though.

    In my High School we had a rolling cart with 30 laptops inside it, a central charging supply, a printer and a wireless network. This was maybe the best idea our IT department ever had because when the computers were necessary they could come to the classroom where they were needed without the logistics of moving a couple of dozen teenagers. When they're not needed, they can be put in buffer or sent to where they are. The downtime you'd normally see of computers in class is not wasted and the budget is more effectively applied to all of the classrooms. It sounds like my school was a lot smaller than the one you're serving at, so maybe a lot more carts are needed than just the one, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i agree - most people 'taking notes' on laptops in lectures don't pay much attention to the lecture and instead are playing with their computer.

      Computers should only be introduced when they are necessary.

      • by Jurily (900488)

        i agree - most people 'taking notes' on laptops in lectures don't pay much attention to the lecture and instead are playing with their computer.

        And why exactly is that a bad thing? During the 14 years of my education I had exactly two teachers who told me anything that wasn't in the book.

        Of course, being the curious geeky type, I already read the book the day they made me buy it. Why should I pay attention if I pass the test with the highest score in the class?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Idimmu Xul (204345)

          And why exactly is that a bad thing? During the 14 years of my education I had exactly two teachers who told me anything that wasn't in the book.

          Of course, being the curious geeky type, I already read the book the day they made me buy it. Why should I pay attention if I pass the test with the highest score in the class?

          Not everyone is like you, if they were, why even have class rooms and educational establishments, why not just have a list of recommended reading, followed by an exam a week later and dispens

    • by Ma8thew (861741)
      Second for this idea. My secondary school did this. The most important thing is to make sure that the WiFi works for every computer every time its used. Otherwise ten minutes of every lesson will be spent getting the computers connected. It might even be helpful to get a couple of spare laptops, that can immediately replace any broken ones.
    • by Aranykai (1053846)

      My school began a similar setup my senior year and I must say it worked quite well. Teachers would submit a request in advance, and the various carts would be distributed as needed. It freed up our existing lab rooms to be converted into additional class space, and swapping a non-functional laptop out of the cart was much faster than dealing with a desktop.

    • Well if you get competent admins to secure your network, instead of letting teaching staff do it, then you can safely leave the laptops at students' desks, and they'll be unable to access anything but their authorised work.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:53PM (#26599279) Homepage

      I don't have as much faith in a computer for every student, in every class.

      I think the big problem is that people don't necessarily ask and answer this question before they begin implementation: what are we trying to accomplish with these computers?

      I remember when they first started the "computer in every classroom" initiative in my state. It was during the tech bubble of the '90s, and there was a great sense that computers were the new thing, they were a big deal, and the kids should be exposed to them in education. Put them in the classroom, and students will be magically enriched by the experience.

      So they put a single computer into every classroom, and they sat there. There were occasional instances where students were allowed to use them to look something up online, but a few kids went looking for porn, and so next thing you know, students weren't allowed on the computers. Most of the teachers didn't really know how to use them, either, and the computers didn't have anything useful for the teachers anyhow (e.g. computerized grade books to test-creation software). So the computers just sat there and did nothing.

      I don't want to suggest that computer *can't* be useful. Obviously they're good for writing papers. I'm still keeping an eye out for stories about using textbooks with open licensing and digital distribution, which seems like a great direction for us to take over the long term. The potential is tremendous.

      I just believe that projects will generally be much more successful and efficient if you start by formulating a set of goals (and also perhaps things you'd like to avoid), and then figuring out what's necessary to meet those goals. Starting with a set of tools (which is what the computers would be) and then trying to figure out what you might be able to do with those tools tends to end less well.

      • by EEBaum (520514)
        Heh... the computer in every classroom. My high school had them. They were used for:

        1) Teachers (or TA) entering grades (98%)
        2) Students who had finished work early playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego or listening to synthesized cats singing Christmas music (2%)
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:20PM (#26599003)
    We used to use our textbooks as makeshift sleds... I'd recommend NOT giving every student a laptop to take home!
    • by c_forq (924234)
      I concur. When I was in primary school we used textbooks, backpacks, car hoods, plywood, and any other flat object we could get our hands on to make sleds.
    • For sure you can SLED [novell.com] with your new machines, but you might face heat from those purist advocates of Linux.
  • Sunray... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ender_wiggins (81600) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:26PM (#26599033) Journal

    Lowest on going cost over all. And one admin to rule them all.

    • Re:Sunray... (Score:4, Informative)

      by FLoWCTRL (20442) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:40PM (#26599157) Journal

      I second that. Thin clients offer the best RIO due to their low ongoing operational costs. Basically you'll be paying for a good sysadmin, plus commercial software for the server, if you need that.

      Sunrays in particular are good because Solaris is free - you don't have per seat licensing fees (unless you're using them with Windows Server). If you need Windows, however, they can do that too.

      Another issue to consider is security and insurance costs. Sunrays are not an attractive target for thieves because they are useless without the server. You don't even need to lock them down. If you go with real computers instead of thin clients, you will have theft, and your insurance costs will be higher.

      • by happyslayer (750738) <david@isisltd.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:53PM (#26599287)

        I do IT for a medical practice. What we ended up with was a central server running Fedora and LTS, with thin clients in each of the exam rooms and in the doctor's office.

        This had all the benefits of getting the records available in each room without having to go through individual updates. There are still fat clients/full workstations in the office, but those are primarily for the other work--office manager, accounting, etc.

        since each grade level is different (different lessons, different requirements), I would suggest having a server either for each classroom, grade level, or department. For example, your math classes would need different software (and access) than your English class. You could even set up your foreign-language classes to have the locale set to the language they teach--the kids would have to learn French, Spanish, Russian, etc to use the computers...and the casual contact with that language would reinforce the lessons.

        True, you would lose some of the benefits of "one admin to rule them all," but the software and changes would be compartmentalized--and the Computer instructors could even have more free reign to fix (or damage) their systems as they see fit.

        • I wonder if it's possible to combine thin clients and something like the TechCrunch Tablet.

          A mix like that would probably be the best solution. They're light, they're interactive, you could have a cart with them, an AP or three, and USB keyboards for the students. Have a "permanent" thin client or two in every classroom for the teachers and the occasional small stuff (quick look ups I guess?).

          One thing though, is a thin client based on ARM able to run x86 binaries? (that are running off of the server) And c

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by willoughby (1367773) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:28PM (#26599045)
    Tell me why throwing computers at the students will educate them "better" than having a professor standing at the front of the room moving a magnet along a glowing glass tube filled with argon showing them how the magnetic field "collapses" the light into a ribbon, with the students first entranced and then eagerly scribbling notes. And then in the next class having the students find the flaw in a mathematical proof covering two blackboards which "proves" that 2+2=5.

    Stop thinking about computers & start thinking of the students.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by porcupine8 (816071) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:54PM (#26599295) Journal
      Can you put a high-enough-powered microscope in every classroom so that they can see what's going on at a molecular level, rather than just having it explained in the abstract that more energy makes molecules move faster? If not, a computer simulation might add something to their experience. Are there labs in your town where the students can help scientists collect and analyze real data? If not, an online collaboration with such scientists might make the pursuit of science a little more real to them.

      Sure, computers are not the answer to every educational problem. Traditional methods that work should not be thrown away. But to ignore all of the possible lessons that would not be possible without computers is very short-sighted, and unfairly limits the experiences the students might be able to have.
    • by mollymoo (202721)

      The questioner doesn't suggest that it would educate them "better" than a teacher. Good IT and good teaching aren't mutually exclusive, as you seem to be suggesting.

      * Professors teach at universities and specialise in being incredibly knowledgeable in their field and getting grant money, being good at teaching is pretty much optional. Teachers on the other hand teach in schools and specialise in being good at teaching.

  • Stay away from laptops and tablets! The students will only get distracted. Pencil and paper work much better for most subjects. Also, probably an even bigger issue is the teachers are going to have to focus a lot of their time on working out bugs and learning IT stuff, when they should be focusing on TEACHING. Until Apple makes an idiot proof Epod, stay away from this please. My first year of college, half of the students played Diablo 2 every class. These students didn't make it to their second year.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Stay away from pencil and paper! The students only get lazy because they don't have to remember anything. Slates are much better for most subjects.

      • However you can't play Quakelive or twitter on a slateboard or piece of paper.
        Electronic workbooks or tablets for everyone is a great idea as long as they're not also general purpose computers. I wish Alphasmart Danas were marketed better or sold cheaper when they were released. Until handwriting recognition becomes truely viable (and cheap), they're the next best thing to a paper notebook.

  • Computer lab (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:38PM (#26599137)

    I'm all for computers, having started programming back in '77 when a highcool math teacher took the private initiative to take some of us to an after school adult education class to learn programming, then building my own NASCOM-1 Z-80 kit in '78, and so on... I've been a professional programmer for over 25 years, and practically live on the computer at home doing hobbyist programming... So, I couldn't be a stronger advocate for the use and fun of using computers...

    That all said, I'd have to go with the traditional computer lab model, preferably not just as a resource for homework research etc, but as a place for schedules hands-on computer lessons as part of the curriculum whether it be programming or even general computer use. I don't really see a useful place for computers in the classroom as part of other lessons, as it seems it would only be a distraction. The "enriched interactive multimedia experience" story-line may sound good at some level, but all it's really going to mean is that time that could have been spent covering and explaining core lesson material is instead spent faffing around with computers, watching videos, dealign with computer probolems etc.

    If you want to have some cross-over between computer/programming classes and other lessons, then why not just encourage use of the internet as a research tool for homework assignments, maybe accept (or occasionally require) printed assignments as well as hand writen ones. This sort of approach would give the kids a useful introduction to preactical use of computers, an exposure to programming, but not do so at the expense of turning the core curruculum into am extended multimedia click-fest, and taking attention away from the teacher.

    If you do take the opposite approach and bring computers into the classroom, then consider the scale of effort requires to develop computer based courses that are the equal of the textbook based material you currently teach. This sounds more like a mult-year national level effort, rather than something that a few teachers are going to be able to hack together in your own school.

    I'd also echo what another poster wrote - don't go it alone! Reseach how other schools are using computers and what actually WORKS. Which schools have seen grades increase rather than decrease as a result of use of computers, and how does that correlate to the way they are using them?

    • The "enriched interactive multimedia experience" story-line may sound good at some level, but all it's really going to mean is that time that could have been spent covering and explaining core lesson material is instead spent faffing around with computers, watching videos, dealign with computer probolems etc.

      I posted elsewhere that my concern would be whether there was a clear idea as to why they were bringing the computers into the classroom in the first place, but what I think I failed to emphasize in that post is the idea that computers aren't magical devices that automatically educate children, and I wish people would stop thinking they were.

      I have no problem with interactive/multimedia being used in education, but it's not really a good end in itself. The computer is just the tool and/or medium. It does

      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        I have to say, I don't think highly of your workflow solution, if projects can be submitted without appropriate paperwork.

  • I agree this should be a matter of national or regional standards and not a school-to-school decision; but as you're stuck with the situation, I have to recommend a netbook. The interface issue is significant and tablets would be really cool, but with cunning programming that can be overcome for many lesson needs.

    The thing about netbooks is that they're cheap, dirt cheap - in bulk, $250 US buys a reasonable screen and 1GB of RAM these days. Schools are constantly shying away from spending on *people*, so

  • Without it, you are wasting your money. Unless you can train your staff to integrate technology into their curriculum on a daily basis it simply won't be used. You will have the hardest time convincing the more 'experienced' members of your staff to use technology effectively -instead of just as an 'electronic babysitter'- and to get them to breakaway from their old methods of lesson delivery. Using technology to teach requires a lot more preparation then just running off a few dozen problems on the copy ma
  • As an instructor, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hoplite3 (671379) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:43PM (#26599191)

    I think a lot of this is snakeoil. If it isn't immediately clear what advantage the computer will bring to the lesson, don't use the computer. There are cases when it is clear that the computer brings a lot of positives, but it isn't all cases by a longshot.

    Computers can eat up class time with distractions and technical problems. And digital work lacks tangibility. Students respond better to paper homework with actual scores than to digital assignments with scores appearing on some webpage.

    I know that these problems may be solvable in the future, but they aren't solved now.

    • I think a lot of this is snakeoil. If it isn't immediately clear what advantage the computer will bring to the lesson, don't use the computer. There are cases when it is clear that the computer brings a lot of positives, but it isn't all cases by a longshot.

      Bingo. In primary and secondary grades, I'd daresay that computers wouldn't bring nearly enough to the learning process to justify their price. Just as for instance having a computer for each student in a Physical Education class is very obviously near pointless, the same can be said for History, Geography, and the various maths and sciences.

      Bottom line: use computers in the classroom as a tool, not a process.

      Giving TEACHERS access to presentation system with a nice projector in each classroom... now THAT

  • by porcupine8 (816071) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:46PM (#26599207) Journal
    No matter what setup you choose, don't forget the most important ingredient: Training. Lots of it. Ongoing. Study after study has shown that technology only gets truly integrated into the classroom if both teachers and administrators get ongoing, regular professional development around both using it and working it into the curriculum. Not just one session before the start of the school year - at least a couple of years' worth of regular sessions to help them figure out how to use it in the lessons they're teaching. Without that, whatever you get will just go to waste.
  • by mysticgoat (582871) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:49PM (#26599241) Homepage Journal

    A relatively new option that should be looked at is providing each student with their own USB drive, at a cost of 10USD to 100USD each, depending on whether flash or spinning, and size. Load these with a standard image of portable FOSS software (assuming you are using Windows, look at the Portable Apps web site [portableapps.com]. There will be room enough for a full suite of portable applications plus storage for all text a student might author in the course of year. Plus, with the larger drives, enough room for libraries of whatever. Be worth the while to check what's now available through the Open CourseWare initiatives of MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and a host of other institutions. Some of it may be appropriate to the students in question, and you can't beat the price or accessibility.

    A key to this approach is loading a portable image of Firefox that is preconfigured with the bookmarks and other features the school wants the students to have access to.

    This showed a great deal of promise in an adult ed "Preparation For The WorkPlace" environment I was associated with until last July. The software was well received by students, especially Firefox with its bookmarks. They got very comfortable using it. These were on 1 GB thumb drives, which was more than adequate in size.

    The portable OpenOffice.org component was not well received by those teachers who were already very defensive about their minimalist skill level with Microsoft Office, but that kind of resistance (of teachers being required to learn new software) is a separate issue that has to be faced no matter how software in the schools is updated.

  • Less is better... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Talsan (515546)

    Computers are wonderful tools, but for most subjects students learn at that point in their lives (middle/high school in the US), computers aren't necessary.

    Think about the primary subjects - Math, Science, and Literature/Writing - where do you see the benefits in using computers? Obviously for English classes, having access to computers to type papers is handy, but it's hardly necessary. Computers can be used in math to help illustrate concepts, but you don't want the students using computers to do their

    • They may not be necessary, but that doesn't mean they can't be an improvement. Do you want your kids to get a "good enough" education or a great one?

      I'm not saying that they're a godsend that revolutionizes every aspect of every subject taught. But they can make a lot of things more concrete that are difficult for students to learn in the abstract - and studies show that starting out in the concrete, with many different concrete examples, then moving to abstractions, makes it easier for people to apply t
  • Avoid tablet PCs (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a senior in a private high school where every student has a tablet PC. Save for a few particularly tech-savvy teachers, it's quite lackluster compared to how the plan looks on paper.

    First of all, you're looking at high upfront costs. A Lenovo X60 tablet, the model we use, runs between $1,500 and $2,000, and if you include the $300 yearly "technology fee" my school tacks on (presumably to pay the tech department's salaries), that's a pretty steep cost no matter who's paying it.

    Which brings us to the main

  • by fantomas (94850) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:58PM (#26599317)

    I am working with Asus EEE PCs in a Milton Keynes school -I am at the Open University and we are part of the Personal Inquiry project [pi-project.ac.uk]. Happy to chat offline if you'd like to hear about our experiences.

    Main issues: variable levels of student computer literacy, support and management of laptops, making sure the devices transparently connect to the school network, other school computers on shared drives and home networks, ethical issues (schools and homes having different policies on what students can access), students using laptops as tool to play with instead of working (i.e. using the games/distraction software and functionalities).

    • by xenocide2 (231786)

      How does teacher training fit into your plans? Do teachers generally know what to do with what you've given them, or is there an ongoing training plan?

  • Old Skool Works! (Score:2, Informative)

    by MBHkewl (807459)

    I live in Kuwait and during my time in college, instructors have tried various "electronic" solutions like a smart board or a basic power point presentation, avoiding being interactive with students on a blackboard.

    In all cases, it was always a bad idea. The smart board had problems (virus infcetions, IP conflicts, windows crashes, ...etc.) and power point presentations were dull -- myself and many others were almost asleep and drooling (and I was sitting in the first row!).

    The instructor's solution to the

  • Thin Client is great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dotwaffle (610149) <slashdot AT walster DOT org> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:07PM (#26599403) Homepage

    Here's a scenario for you, that will cater to your needs:

    Buy the most power machine money can buy - up to about £3000 in terms of CPU power, lots of RAM, and every storage slot filled with high capacity storage - stick with SATA if available, otherwise SAS disks will do.

    Then, go to Viglen, and buy their crappy little £79 PCs that go on the back of the monitor with a VESA mount. They're shockingly underpowered - 400MHz, but they make fantastic thin clients.

    You can run about 100 think clients on such a system, and it'll work really nicely.

    However, it being a school - there's no chance it'll take off, and you'll be stuck with the same rubbish everyone else is.

    As an IT professional, I actually am against computers in schools. Typing is all well and good, but kids these days already know Google and Word, anything they actually need for modern business is pretty much self-taught or taught at their first place of employment.

    Computers are the bane of the modern UK school system.

    • by mollymoo (202721)

      As an IT professional, I actually am against computers in schools. Typing is all well and good, but kids these days already know Google and Word, anything they actually need for modern business is pretty much self-taught or taught at their first place of employment.

      Not having computers in schools would be a great way to exclude the kids from families who don't have a home computer from society and fail to prepare them for the world of work. Yes, kids without computers at home really do exist in the UK; some are poor, some just have weird parents.

  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:10PM (#26599423) Homepage

    Laptop Carts are the way to go. They are small, efficient, mobile, and more than enough for any task needed in school.

    I'd say 1-2 carts with a classroom's worth of laptops, a wireless router/AP, and wireless printer (or regular printer plugged into a wireless router/ap that can act as a print server). Brand would be whoever can offer the best support contract, Dell, HP, etc. Stay away from OLPC or EEE's while I love Open Source they are too crippled and you can always install Linux (or live CDs) on a regular laptop if the desire is there.

    Then if there would be the room/money available have one lab with desktops for any/all other needs. The other item would be USB thumbdrives for each student (they can be reasonably small like 1GB) and lock out the ability to save to anything but the thumbdrives. A projector may be useful for the cart too.

  • If the school is teaching IT at all the best solution is a heterogeneous environment. Any servers for production should be free/open source to save on licensing costs, and servers in the IT classes should be a mix of Linux, Windows, Solaris, and OS X to give the students maximum hands-on experience.

    Clients for production should be F/OSS whenever possible, again, to save on both up-front and recurring costs, and clients for instruction that MSDN and similar licensing doesn't apply (kiosks, biology classes, e

  • They can't handle flash or video well. You'll need massive bandwidth. Besides, netbooks are cheaper. $350 US or so. So get a netbook per child, load them with open office, install remote viewing software so the teacher can check what each child is doing, and then provide lots and lots of teacher training. The real trick is to make laptop classes optional, and only for teachers who have shown a willingness to use them. Giving them to everyone is a waste. Sharing them with a laptop cart stops teachers

  • First, hire me. It'll be the best thing you'd ever do. I'm a little pricey, but worth it.

    Then we'll make a proper evaluation of your proposed facility. Well take input from the staff. We'll find out what vendors are available and what requirements there will be to maintain it.

    Once that is complete, we'll draw up several proposals for how what the staff and administration want could be accomplished.

    We won't make an "Ask Slashdot" for a shot in t

  • Old School? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterofoz (1038508) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @02:32PM (#26599587) Homepage Journal
    I vote for paper, pencil, and flowchart templates. That way beginning users don't get confused by all the tech stuff and learn how to think. Nothing makes you think and plan ahead like drawing flowcharts by hand.

    Beyond IT uses for the computers, I recommend the following rather than their computer simulations:

    • Real wood and clay for art classes - get dirty
    • Real books to curl up with by the fireplace for literature
    • Real test tubes, worms & fish, and magnets for sciences
    • Real slide rule, pencils and rulers for math.
    • Real track, field, balls, and gym for physical education
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EEBaum (520514)
      Hear hear! (though the slide rule is a bit outmoded, I think... in any case, very little in math class requires a calculator).

      If the budget is significant, I'd add to the list real musical instruments.
  • One laptop per student is the single best approach. There is little point in 'computer rooms' since about 1994. Considering how laptops are coming down in price. When you look at bulk deals of basic laptops the cost per child is now acceptable. But even if it is the most expensive solution it is absolutely worth every penny.

    These kids will be shoved out into the workforce at some point, and even today, let alone ten years from now almost all jobs involve using a computer for at least a significant portio
  • We had interactive teaching tools when I was in school. They were called teachers. We also had these things called books, too, which didn't react to anything, and the pictures didn't animate, but they revealed whole new worlds to me nonetheless.

    I'm old. :-(

  • LTSP (Score:4, Informative)

    by dvice_null (981029) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @03:44PM (#26600287)

    Use LTSP. Depending on the amount of clients, one or more servers and then many clients.
    - LTSP clients are cheap, and they don't need client side maintenance except for hardware failures.
    - Startup time for the computers is very small. With normal computers it can take 15 minutes to start up the computers, with LTSP it is a minute or less. This is important, because it is taken away from the school time.
    - LTSP clients don't have hard drives, so they dont' break so easily.
    - LTSP clients need less electricity, so you will save in electricity bills.
    - You will be practically virus free
    - Students can use any computer in any class (if you have them in several classes) and always get their own desktop.
    - New clients are cheap and easy to add to the netnwork (unless you add so many that you need to add servers also, but that is not very hard either)
    - Teachers can control the clients and easily e.g. disable them when they should not be used.
    - Maintenance is cheap as pretty much only the server needs maintenance.
    - Software licenses are free with Linux, OpenOffice.org etc.
    - It has been used in schools before and total savings in costs have been 70% compared to Windows desktop computers. (Note this is only one study and it contains the expenses from transforming a Windows environment into Linux environment)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dfdashh (1060546)
      LTSP website [ltsp.org]

      Certified clients and other hardware/support [disklessworkstations.com]
  • by teknoviking (1209728) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:27PM (#26601711) Homepage

    The major reason computer technology deployments for K-12 education (in the US at least..)and failed to deliver on it's promises while becoming a black hole of spending in the 90s and early 2000's, is that the approach was similar to the one you describe here.

    Back then, we gave teachers and administrators the latest, greatest technology and expected them to figure out how to use it in order to make instruction better. Some teachers did just that, but they were few and far between. These early adopters created pockets of technology and inconsistency/inequality of instruction across the school landscape. In the worst cases, the technology sat gathering dust in the classroom closet.

    Several years ago I participated in a large-scale Gates Foundation grant to study various models of instruction and gather measurable data about those models. ( Before you jump up-and-down about Micro$oft dealing Windows to our kids, you should know that of the 9 million in grant funding, only 10% could be spent on technology... the majority had to be used to study the instructional outcomes of the various school models.)

    As the result of that study we found a number of proven technologies and techniques that helped to enhance the learning experience.

    1) Before you buy a single piece of Tek, you need an instructional technology plan that will show how the equipment and software that you choose will create the instructional outcomes you want. Results MUST be measurable so that you can share them with the public (partial to justify the expense...) and instructional staff so that you can build and refine your techniques. The plan should be at least 3 years in depth and be flexible enough to absorb changes in administration and instructional staff. If you do not do this first, all the tek in the world wont help you educate kids.

    2) Develop a support plan and a refresh cycle. This is the IT side of the house. You plan should include long term training both for new staff and a constant refreshers for existing staff. You want admin computing (see #3 below ) to be a no-brainier so you can concentrate your resources on the instructional side of the house.

    3) Deploy a standardized technology to instructors and administrators in order to cover the rote administrative tasks like grading, email, communication, Internet research, and word processing. Thin client works very well for this. It's robust and consistent.

    4) No Classroom Computers in Grades K-3: Children at these ages need to focus on interpersonal and cognitive skills. Computer Technology at this level has been shown in many studies to decrease the learning process.

    5) Deploy Smartboards, LCD Projectors, a Presentation PC with an attached "Elmo", and classroom sound amplification system (such as the "FrontRow" product). Of all this equipment, the piece that will make the most difference is the amplification system. This technology has been proven time and time again to increase student learning/comprehension and at the same time, reduce teacher absenteeism.

    6) Consider learning labs and mobile devices such as tablets and laptop carts, if they fit into your instructional technology and support plans and maximize your available resources.

    And just some tips from my own years of experience in edTek:

    -Break the low voltage data infrastructure wiring out from the general contractor who is building your new school. Generals don't understand the big-picture of data. Be sure that the IT staff is involved in the deployment and design of your plant.

    -Don't skimp on power outlets and data jacks!

    -Laptop carts can be very heavy when fully loaded. If you use them, go with more small ones with fewer laptops.

    -If you engage a consultant(s) to oversee your tek deployment, be sure they have lots of experience with school technology. Business folks often don't understand the differences that exist between the private sector and education.
    Don't fret over the Windows/Mac/Linux issue for instruction. If your teachers are edu

  • Active Whiteboards (Score:3, Informative)

    by ccktech (714574) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @10:08PM (#26603349) Homepage
    I work for a school district in the US and the bang for your money is Active Whiteboards and software such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activstudio [wikipedia.org]. It was incredible how this technology really enabled better teaching and interactions with the kids. The next thing is mobile labs of laptops. However, these do require a good wireless support network. ski

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