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Hardware Thread, ICT Upgrade advice PLEASE! in Technical; I recently started at a school to support the ICT Subject Leader in upgrading ICT resources. (I am extremely keen ...
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    melart's Avatar
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    ICT Upgrade advice PLEASE!

    I recently started at a school to support the ICT Subject Leader in upgrading ICT resources. (I am extremely keen but am in no way a technician so am on a very steep learning curve!!). Unfortunately with a change of ICT Subject Leaders over the past 3 years plans have slipped and the governors are now pushing to get things moving along.

    We are a first school with Nursery, KS1 and KS2 - total of 170 pupils.

    The school has:
    • RM Storebox
    • 1 laptop trolley with 18 laptops (about 5 years old)
    • 8 teacher laptops (from 5 years to 8 months old)
    • about 30 PC's throughout classrooms and admin (some new, some VERY old)
    • wireless network.

    We have a technician who comes in once a week to deal with the really "techy" issues that I haven't manage to solve.

    I've come in half way through the planning process but so far the school are looking to:

    • Upgrade to CC4
    • Upgrade wireless network (have had issues when children using laptops want to access their folders to save work and they are not all able to see their folder on the storebox. Have been advised that this is due to all 18 laptops logged on at the same time and wireless not able to cope?)


    Opinions vary as to developing the ICT resources and these are the main ideas so far:

    • Implement an ICT suite with 30 PC's AND
    • Retain our existing laptop trolley & teacher laptops (our technician advises that our current laptops just need additional memory (1GB) and will be fine on CC4) ADVICE PLEASE?? AND
    • Purchase an additional trolley with a mixture of laptops and netbooks - 15 on the trolley

    Therefore resource for each Keystage at any given time during the day

    OR

    • Replace laptops on current trolley & teacher laptops (if memory upgrade is not the way to go) AND
    • Purchase 2 additional trolleys with a mixture of laptops and netbooks - 15 per trolley i.e. 30 new

    Therefore go entirely with new laptops/netbooks with each Keystage having resource

    Another issue is that the majority of PC's and Laptops are currently RM machines (apart from very old PC's). As I'm not an expert do we stick with RM or with the help/advice from county, resource our own PC's/laptops??

    We have quite a large capital budget to use but obviously want to get the most for our money and more importantly want to get it right! At the moment their is no rolling plan to upgrade equipment so this is also something that we have to get in place, pronto!

    I am sure there are many schools who have gone through this experience already and I would really appreciate some advice as to the way forward with ICT in schools. Am I old fashioned in leaning towards an ICT suite and maybe having only 1 or 2 laptop trolleys or is the entire laptop trolley/mobile approach the way forward????

    PHEW! 10 out of 10 for getting this far!

    Looking forward to some feedback please.

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    I heard moving from CC3 to CC4 would cost alot of money, this is just licencing costs not even hardware! My personal preferance would be moving completely Vanilla (took over a CSE network) but this will take alot of planning on a technical side, unless you have someone with good technical knowledge I would suggest two things:

    1. Stay with CC3 (still supported) and in your first year, upgrade your infrastructure and look at moving too a new system the following year

    2. Get a company like CSE to install a new system (even though I hate their software the people I talk to there generally know what they're doing)

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    rad
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    I wouldn't do the following.
    Upgrade to CC4 yet
    Upgrade laptops with more ram

    I would
    Buy PC's and have a suite instead

    The issues with cc4 are annoying and not worth the upgrade yet
    Keeping laptops is fine but they will die when batteries start failing

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    Quote Originally Posted by melart View Post
    The school has:
    • RM Storebox
    • 1 laptop trolley with 18 laptops (about 5 years old)
    • 8 teacher laptops (from 5 years to 8 months old)
    • about 30 PC's throughout classrooms and admin (some new, some VERY old)
    • wireless network.
    Spend your money on installing ceiling-mounted projectors and speakers in classrooms. Use the newest PCs as thin client servers, with the VGA output connected to the classroom projector. Take the laptops out of the trolley and leave them in classrooms, plugged in to power and network, as thin clients. Aim for banks of half a dozen, don't worry about having a whole class "computer room" - integrate ICT into the curriculum and have pupils use the computers in the classrooms. Sell the trolley on eBay. Have the teacher laptops control the server/projector screens via VNC. Buy some decent wireless keyboards and mice for the teachers.

    --
    David Hicks

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    melart's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for your feedback.

    We aren't even on CC3 at the moment. The school were planning to do this last year but missed the boat and apparently we can only get CC4 now.

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    Be thankful for it! windows 2008/r2 does everything that cc4 does, plus anything else I need I usually find with freeware, with no RM about just do infrastructure upgrades

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    Save the school some money and yourself some hassle and get someone in to implement a vanilla setup (might be worth speaking with your LA). If you do decide to go the CC4 route you will need to decent spec machines from the outset (upgrading RAM is a cheap sensible option anything less that 1gb in will struggle), as well as a reasonably beefy server as CC4 can be reasonably demanding even on a smaller network.

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    What access points are you using?

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    Forgot to say if you do go down the CC4 route be prepaired to startup each laptop at least 5 minutes before anyone wants to use them and dont expect to be able to assign packages or RM updates for that matter over the wireless, for that you will need to be patching them in.
    A decent managed wireless setup would also be preferable.

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    Where in the country are you melart?

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    Also don't mix trolleys, each trolley should have the same equipment in to save from issues such as "but X works on these machines but not Y"

    for example, i have one trolley dedicated to the laptops and the other to the netbooks.

  12. Thanks to p858snake from:

    melart (24th September 2009)

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    Hertfordshire

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    I am going to sound really ignorant (what the heck!). Am I correct in thinking that the access points are to do with the wireless network? If so what kind of access points are they likely to be?

    I did say from the outset that I'm not a "techie"!! I have SO much to learn!

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    melart's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice. We are planning to upgrade the whole wireless setup so hopefully this will resolve issues going forward.

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    melart's Avatar
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    Thanks, someone else has also mentioned Vanilla. I will mention this to our technician when he visits tomorrow as his company was going to do the CC4 installation so I'm hoping he'll know what this might involve.

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