[K12OSN] [Bulk] Computer lab needed in Elementary school?

Peter Scheie peter at scheie.homedns.org
Sat May 7 01:22:31 UTC 2011

ollenotna2000 wrote:

> In some situations each student is given a personal netbook for the 
> whole year, that he can take home and let him connect to the school 
> intranet.

Many people, those inside the schools and those outside, think this idea sounds 
cools & high tech.  But it is a support nightmare.  I've lost track of the 
number of schools who got a grant to buy a bunch of laptops and three years 
later had to essentially abandon the program because the cost of supporting a 
1:1 program with the students--keeping the machines working, keeping them from 
being messed up by the kids, dealing with them as parts inevitably 
break--quickly dwarf the initial acquisition costs.

It is MUCH cheaper to build centralized login servers with LTSP servers & thin 
clients in all the classrooms, where the students get their own environment no 
matter which machine they login on.

The analogy I give people is that giving students their own laptops is like 
saying "If we give each kid his own folding chair, then we don't have to put any 
in the classrooms, they can just carry the chairs from room to room."  That's 
true but it mostly provides computing where they don't need it, e.g., the 
hallway.  LTSP drives the cost of (access to) computing down so low that it's 
affordable to put a lab into every classroom.  One laptop for each kid sounds & 
looks cool, but it is the most expensive way to provide access to computers for 


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