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General Chat Thread, Getting rid of ICT Suites in General; After a discussion on twitter about whether to get rid of ICT suites I have done another constructive blog post ...
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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Getting rid of ICT Suites

    After a discussion on twitter about whether to get rid of ICT suites I have done another constructive blog post to outline some of the issues with moving to laptop trolleys ... not to deter people from doing so, but just to make people aware of what it can involve and the implications.

    This is not to take anything away from the greater educational benefits of providing more access to technology, or the flexibility it can provide.

    Another ‘No to ICT Suites’ thread | GrumbleDook Thinks

    All comments appreciated
    Last edited by GrumbleDook; 26th May 2011 at 12:20 PM. Reason: spelling

  2. 6 Thanks to GrumbleDook:

    Arthur (26th May 2011), CESIL (26th May 2011), Marci (26th May 2011), sparkeh (26th May 2011), speckytecky (26th May 2011), Steve21 (26th May 2011)

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    Steve21's Avatar
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    Nice read, Generally I don't see the point with moving away from ICT suites. Assuming you have "some" mobile capacity for areas without them etc.

    End of day, seems to work out cheaper, easier to maintain, and thus more of them around the school in general.

    Steve

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    It does tend to be primary schools who are moving away from them do ... and I am sure some of those who support primary schools can shed light on the trials and tribulations of both sides of the discussion.

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Good read, just one thing:
    In general the IT profession say you should replace a desktop after 3 years and a laptop after 4
    Shouldn't that be the other way round, ie laptop after 3 and desktop after 4?

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teejay View Post
    Shouldn't that be the other way round, ie laptop after 3 and desktop after 4?
    If you read further down I do explain that the choice of 3 and 4 years is down to keeping something running to get the most out of the investment ... considering you will have the same cash to pay for either laptops or desktops. If you pay more you have to run it for longer ... in reality we know this presents difficulties though.

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    teejay's Avatar
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    Yes, but a laptop is often trashed after 3 years, a desktop easily runs for 4-5 years. It's pointless planning for a 4 year lifecycle if they aren't going to survive that long.

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    mthomas08's Avatar
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    We have scrapped ALL our Laptop trollies for students over the years. They all got wrecked, all wireless and just gave the students, staff and us grief. Now our staff are more understanding about laptops + Students this is some thing that shouldnt ever come back in my time. We do not have the best behaved students so it was never a bright idea.

    As a result both of those areas now have desktops and have far less issues.

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    Marci's Avatar
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    As I've said in the Twitterverse on the matter... for us at a secondary level it boils down to classroom management and shared responsibillity.

    We have a situation where we have 5 shared IT Suites... ie: no fixed member of staff takes responsibility for the room.
    We also have 3 IT Suites that belong to individual members of staff - ie: they ALWAYS teach in those rooms.
    The Shared resources are trashed with monotonous regularity. The non-shared resources are in perfect condition.

    Laptop Trolleys reflect the same. Where laptop trolleys are a shared resource, booked thru IT Support and delivered to rooms when needed, the laptops are frequently damaged and abused. Clear guidelines, tutorials and training have been provided on how to manage the laptop trolleys, including checking laptops out, inspecting them, and checking them back in, and reporting faults. All trolleys are padlocked and the code given to staff, along with the instruction to NOT let students get the code. Most staff appoint a "responsible" student in the class, and give them the code, and get them to "hand out" the laptops, which basically involves the student opening the trolley, grabbing one for themselves and wandering off to email the padlock code to their mates whilst a scrum-pile forms behind them of kids fighting over the rest. This is despite staff being given clear procedures to follow which state that staff must unlock the trolley, handout each laptop after performing a quick visual check for damage to keyboard and screen, and noting which student they give the laptop to.

    Staff deem doing this to be too much workload, so simply don't bother. As we bill the department using the trolley for repairs, most don't log any faults etc, because they don't want to lose money for their department and thus they won't note down who gets what laptop during the lesson nor note what damage was incurred by that student during the lesson.

    Where a department is solely responsible for their OWN trolley that resides permanently within their department and is not available for use by the rest of the school, there is no such damage.

    So, for us in my opinion, shared resources are a clear no.
    Last edited by Marci; 26th May 2011 at 01:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    It does tend to be primary schools who are moving away from them do ... and I am sure some of those who support primary schools can shed light on the trials and tribulations of both sides of the discussion.
    problems
    wifi plays merry hell once on a teacher latops never get used by anyone ever again

    (possibly due to me being in schools once a week/fortnight for a few hours) yo can never get at the damned things to do any work they are always busy and cant be disturbed etc

    keys get picked off etc and nobody does anything about it notes when etc and so laptops get used less

    teachers let kids put them away so power cords dont get plugged in / trapped in door etc so laptops dont get charged so because of one irresponsible teacher next kids cant use them and then that teacher dosent put them away properly either

    in 3 years the battery life will probably be terrible and the cables will be so hard to get out the trolley they dont last a full lesson

    laptops tend to finf their way into random locations / get lost eaten etc

    they DONT get replaced until they are pretty much all kaput

    msi's take forever to deploy over wifi and in the past ive tested on a real pc added to appropriate gpo gone to get laptops that were free and a class is then sat staring at installing managed software xxx while teacher gets increasingly hacked off

    good points

    space you have an extra classroom (and depending on how its used hopefully the power/network sockets were left intact and can be used by it for any big jobs)

    netbooks work well with little kids as the keyboard are an appropriate size and they dont weigh much/take up much space

    lessons can be taken in classrooms so normal seating arrangements etc

    personally im not a fan of no suite schools though a suiteis a good place do do things and is cheaper than laptops and will last longer and someone destroys a pc keyboard its annoying but its going to cost £6 or so (and i probably have a few spares stashed) laptop keyboard its a pain

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    stevenwba's Avatar
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    We are a primary school, and having laptops give us nothing but trouble, luckily they are now 4 years old, and as everyone has said above, there are now totally wrecked and/or battery life is poor. So the outcome is now, we are expanding the computer suite to fit an entire class so we can get rid of the laptops. A mobile classroom is great if you have the money to maintain it, but i cant see how they can be cost effective, broken keyboards, screens, betteries, much easier and cheaper for a computer suite that could last 4-5 years, and even longer if you really needed it too.

    We also have cc4 here, and as i said before the laptops being 4 years old, boot times are awful, 15-20 mins from cold boot to actually using them.

    I wont be sad to see the back of them, and i dont know about anyone else, but the "mobile" trolly is the size and weight of a small car, and its never moved, would be nice to see a reply from someone who actually moves there mobile trolly, as im pretty sure most dont (:

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    Quote Originally Posted by teejay View Post
    Yes, but a laptop is often trashed after 3 years, a desktop easily runs for 4-5 years. It's pointless planning for a 4 year lifecycle if they aren't going to survive that long.
    Take it that companies and schools have a fixed capital budget each year to pay for computers, which they may 'bank' on certain years. Each year allows for £200 per machine including software, licences, consumables, repairs, etc. Also accept that they will want to upgrade as soon as they can to ensure high quality machines able to perform all the functions of improving software.

    In 3 years you have £600, which is a reasonable sum to purchase a desktop, etc ... but it gets a dreadful laptop which will not last the 3 years, whereas by waiting another year you get £800 which gets a far better laptop which will do you for 4 years and 1 replacement battery. The figures are purely explanatory and not meant to represent exactly what people will pay. Remember that there is no extra money to be able to be put in ... you have what you have got.

    It might be that you make the desktops run for longer but if you are needing flexibility and you still have the budget you started with then it will not magically expand. This is the point when you start having to discuss with staff the compromises based around what you want to do educationally but are restricted by time, money, expertise or a combination of them all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevenwba View Post
    I wont be sad to see the back of them, and i dont know about anyone else, but the "mobile" trolly is the size and weight of a small car, and its never moved, would be nice to see a reply from someone who actually moves there mobile trolly, as im pretty sure most dont (:
    i do in various schools when i need laptops and in some schools i see them wandering into classrooms so it does happen

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    Indeed - trolleys are constantly on the move here... if I could find some elec-wheelchair motors and the necessary bits, I'd have `em going on remote control by now just to save having to spend an hour a day shifting them around the place.

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    Filthy excremental laptops, who's freaking dull witted idea was it to substitude solid, easily reparible hard wired computers with comparitivly expencive, fragile, disconnected little wafers of fail. Some teacher looking for better educational outcomes who 'had used a laptop at home' and decided with no actual knowlage on the subject that the experience would transfer one to one.

    What you actually get is a pack of keyless laptops with dodgey hinges, 5 minute batteries that are never charged anyway and an inconsistant experience because one kid gets the dud laptop that has been dropped last period, not picked up updates etc.

    In the perfect little world of denial that many teachers live in where all their kids are fantastic and would never break anything and would be careful this idea could work well. Unfourtunatly this is not the case and in the worst case scenario kids take their lead from the teachers themselves, picking them up by the screens, vehimently punctuating their statments by jabbing the screen or simply dropping them onto a desk while they are going (not all teachers but enough to be irritating).

    All of this leads to the whole thing being a collosal fail in most cases driven mostly by style and flimbsy educational pretense.

    I just inherited a couple of laptop trollys and will be working to get them functioning in a much more sustanable way than they are now but whatever I do the core issues remain the same, flimbsy gear with unreliable power, unreliable network speed (yes we have managed wireless but it is still only wireless G - thanks to the consumer grade laptops).

    You can expect the teachers to take responcibility all you want but it does not change the fact that many aren't fit to take care of their own laptops and so what chance does a class load of them have with that kind of supervision in place.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 26th May 2011 at 02:43 PM.

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    Pete10141748's Avatar
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    I have just had to remove all the PC's from my ICT Suite as it is being torn down and re-built as a corridor into a new block that is about to start being built.

    No new ICT Suite is in place or planned to be; instead we are having a trolley with 30 laptops in the new "Research Center" (aka a big-ass library with desks and chairs for 30 kids, and which is easily big enough to fit 2 classes of kids, probably more) and also each year group is getting 1 trolley with 8 laptops, a few digital cameras, microphones etc (to borrow a phrase from our ICT Co-Ord, a "mobile media suite") with the idea that, with planning, 2 year groups can 'pool' their laptops to give 1 class 1 laptop between 2 pupils, or 4 year groups can pool to give 1 class 1 laptop per pupil.

    Quite how well that is going to work is up to the planning of the teachers I suppose. Personally I don't think it will work, there's going to be those who want to use them all the time and those who don't ever want to use them, and the trolley's will end up sitting in certain classrooms continuously as other staff can't be bothered to move them around etc.

    But as long as they work, that's my obligation to them fulfilled so I'm not worrying about the use of them, that's up to the teachers.


    EDIT: Oh and I wholly believe that I will have at least 2 broken within the first week of them being in use, within a month 5 will have died and by Christmas I'll have one trolley with no laptops in it at all 'cos they'll all be on my desk awaiting repairs.....
    Last edited by Pete10141748; 26th May 2011 at 03:20 PM.



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