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Re: [school-discuss] New wrinkle on using FOSS and thin client architecture to transition to 1:1 student to PC ratio

Yes, as others have written, please share more.  I teach a course in computer 
structures for k-12 teachers, introducing OSS, and examples like this can be 
very powerful and insightful.  I'd like to prepare it as a case study for my 
students to investigate.  Full kudos to you, of course!


On Monday 24 April 2006 2:23 pm, Daniel Howard wrote:
> Folks, a while back I built a rolling laptop cart for old laptops we had
> at the school that were pretty useless trying to run Windows, but work
> wonderfully as thin clients.  With 12 laptop stations adding to the
> existing 5-9 thin clients in each classroom, we can provide a class with
> an instant 1:1 ratio for activities like creative writing, research,
> etc.  Unlike most laptop carts, this one has removable shelves to put
> the laptops on so kids need only pull up a chair and start working.
> Since the laptops are thin clients, they stay on all the time, so
> transition from one group to another merely requires logging off one
> account and logging on another.  It used to take 10-15 minutes to roll
> the cart into a room, distribute the laptops to students, boot them, and
> get connected to the wireless network, now when a class signs up for
> access to the cart for an hour, the students are on the cart working for
> at least 58 minutes of that hour.  The laptops are all hard wired to a
> K12LTSP server on the cart with UPS battery backup, and there is a
> printer on the cart.
> The cart has been a huge success.  It's now placed in a wide section of
> a hallway with ample room for it, and classes on that floor share the
> cart; the principal reports that kids are on the cart every time she's
> looked at it.
> Based on that success, we're building two more carts for similar floors,
> and what has dawned on us is that this is a fantastic way to transition
> cost effectively to a 1:1 ratio in the school.  With 5-9 clients and a
> 12 station laptop cart outside in the hallway nearby, shared by only a
> handful of classes (as opposed to the entire school), the teachers get a
> 1:1 ratio available to them every day.
> I'm posting this info not only because I want to share our experiences,
> but because it's a new (or return to an old) paradigm: the distributed
> computer clusters model.  By distributing clusters of servers and thin
> clients, we move quickly to a daily 1:1 ratio for the entire school.
> Has anyone seen anything like this at other schools?  We hear every day
> about the two extremes (computer lab and handful of PCs in each class
> vs. 1:1 ratio in entire grades or entire school).  Our model is in
> between these two cases, and is much more cost and space effective than
> trying to put a 1:1 ratio in each class overnight, and faster than
> merely gradually increasing the number of PCs in each class.  Until we
> move to all LCD monitors and diskless mini ITX thin clients, we simply
> could not put all those PCs in a classroom, nor would we have sufficient
> electrical power for that many CRTs and conventional PCs.
> On another related note, we have found that the difference between
> having 1-2 working PCs per class and at least 5 PCs per class is huge:
> having 1-2 working PCs per class is almost like having none, the
> teachers didn't regularly incorporate the technology into their
> instruction.  But with at least 5, the teachers are now all creating
> 'centers' based on the PCs, where at least a third of their students get
>   to work on the PCs for up to two hours every day without having to go
> to the computer lab.  It's been a seachange in how our teachers are
> using technology, and some teachers are already reporting performance
> and motivational benefits of K12LTSP and more PCs.  The youngest grade
> teachers are raving about GCompris and Child's Play.
> I got interested in this whole 1:1 ratio thing over the weekend, and
> found the following links for those also interested, first is a
> Massachusetts school that put laptops in front of every higher grade
> student:
> http://www.portical.org/Presentations/bebell/
> Summary slide:
> What did we learn from exploring ?
> • Technology Used More Frequently in 1:1 settings
> • Higher motivation and engagement in 1:1 settings
> • Computers became students’ primary writing tool in 1:1 settings
> • Differences in classroom structure
> • Differences in home computer use for 1:1 students
> We've seen all of these effects at Brandon except that we haven't
> explored how home PC use may be changing, and have also seen improved
> student performance directly linked to more PCs.
> Also, here's a consortium on 1:1 evaluations:
> http://ubiqcomputing.org/eval_mat_framework.html
> Good templates for surveys, evaluations, etc. on impact of technology on
> instruction.
> Regards,
> Daniel