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

Robert Arkiletian robark at gmail.com
Sat May 7 06:38:50 UTC 2011

On Fri, May 6, 2011 at 6:22 PM, Peter Scheie <peter at scheie.homedns.org> wrote:
> 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 kids.

Hi Peter,

It's nice to see this thread revive this list.

I'm going to play devil's advocate. Not that I really disagree with
you but to point out why school districts are eager to shift paradigms
and move to 1:1 mobile devices.

All classrooms are connected to internet. (via wireless ap's)
No more labs to purchase
No more maintenance of labs (parts+labour)
No network cable infrastructure upgrade costs
No electric power infrastructure upgrade costs
Lower electric utility bills for schools (students generally recharge
devices at home)
Per student mobile devices means schools can migrate towards ebooks **
no more heavy back packs full of textbooks for students to carry
No more photocopying handouts ("eveyone download the handout from the
webserver now") **
Students responsible for purchasing their own mobile device.
(financial burden off district)

**huge cost savings

Wireless network infrastructure costs
Higher network security requirements
Virus, malware issues.
Mobile devices break easily (shorter life than desktops)
Students misuse mobile devices as gaming or texting platforms
Learning from a screen is not as pleasant as learning from a book (my opinion)
Mishmash variety of hardware and software (no standardization)
Students responsible for purchasing their own mobile device.
(financial burden on parents)

If you think about applications and how the browser is THE new
platform then you can provide most apps through SaaS (Software as a
Service). OS agnostic as long as you have a browser.

Whether or not this new high tech system will work, I'm not sure. I
have my doubts too. But this is the light bulb idea that most higher
ups in education are imagining. The problem is what do you do with
students who can't afford a mobile device? Ownership is what creates
motivation to look after the device's well being.

Feel free to add more pros and cons or add your $0.02. This is a fun discussion.

Robert Arkiletian
Eric Hamber Secondary, Vancouver, Canada

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