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Hardware Thread, Laptops + Primay School Ages in Technical; Originally Posted by eean I have never had, or heard of having, a child poke their finger through the screen. ...
  1. #16

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Quote Originally Posted by eean
    I have never had, or heard of having, a child poke their finger through the screen.
    I've had a teacher shut theirs with a pencil sharpener sat on the keyboard 8O

    And judging by the state of the screen afterwards, it must have been shut with some force!

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    the RM One (find out who makes it for RM and cut them out
    Its an ASUS Z91FR but I fear RM have the UK exclusive for it

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    oh dratt Never mind then, back to the drawing board, have you any that you have sold to primary schools that you know have been a big sucess Peter?

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Three of my schools (primaries) use trolley laptops, in three different ways, with three different outcomes.

    1. Two trolleys of 16 basic Acer Windows XP Laptops, 1 HP Procurve AP, all linking to Vanilla 2003 server, with a very basic profile for each year group.

    This works OK - there are occasional problems with laptops losing the connection to the server, but I think this is related to needing another AP to manage demand. The newer machines with built in wireless are better than the older ones with PC Card Wireless adapters. Batteries are becoming problematic on some of the machines.

    2. One trolley of 16 Viglen Dossier Laptops, 3Com APs linking to a Viglen server. Runs Classlink.

    Wireless causes us headaches here. Each child has their own roaming profile. Logon can be slow, machines lose the connection, AP disappear and have to be reset. These have also had battery issues, despite being only just about a year old. It's an acceptable solution, which does work, but it's not perfect.

    3. One trolley of 15 iBooks with an Airport Extreme and One Trolley of 15 MacBooks with 2 Airport Express units. No servers.

    Flawless wireless connectivity. No problems whatsoever at anytime with connecting these to the network. The iBooks have given us no problems at all, the MacBooks have been a pain in the backside with regard to batteries - 5 have died on us in 6 months, although were replaced free. Printing to USB printers via the Airport stations is not very good - the queues hang for no apparent reason at times, and problems arise if several children print at the same time. Not having servers makes file management interesting, although teachers keep specific children on the same machine. They are very good, and even Reception use them. They've got a little bit tatty from the use, but the only machine that suffered damage was the teacher's one which somehow lost a key. Limited selection of software is the biggest gotcha - teachers are disappointed when their favourite software won't work.

    Overall verdict: Laptops are perfectly viable in primary. They are flexible, affordable and work well. Personally from a tech point of view, I don't like them much because they cause a lot of work for me, much more than desktops, but I find they are used much more than desktops used to be. From a teacher/educationalist point of view, they're excellent. And even the very smallest children manage to use them and look after them.

    Hope this helps,

    Chris.

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Cheers Chris, that is again very useful info for me, so thanks for putting the time in to writing all that down for me. We won't be going down the apple route at all, but the Acer option is viable.

    Cheers
    John

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    We tend to find Primary schools buy either the cheapest they can so that they can cost in some spare complete notebooks :P but we have also had customers get behind the ASUS validated by Intel notebooks we assemble ourselves, the initial cost is a little more than the cheapo notebooks but the idea is that they are standards based so the parts should be cheaper and interchangable between other validated by Intel notebooks (Models from Compal, Quanta, ASUS & other manufacturers joining soon).

    As always its a horses for courses kind of situation

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleSi
    @eean
    [EDIT]Sorry - missed your first post ops: [/EDIT]
    Obviously we just need what you've got

    What model of card do you use in your laptops?
    DWL-G650 external cards for all pupil laptops (the original laptops were 801.b and a). I've had problems with some of the intel internal cards (in staff laptops) so I tried using Linksys ones (£12 vs £35 for the Dlinks) but they ain't great either. The newest intel internal model seems to work ok. On the last few laptops we got from RM I told them not to bother putting cards in. As I know the external ones work it's not worth the hassle.
    We use the DWL-G550 (i think) in the desktops.

    I bought the Dlink because they had 108 - but the channel bundling is switched off (it never worked and was slower on than off). I have Turbo switched on though.
    Do you use Windows Zero Configuration or D-links setup?
    Zero Config
    How are your APs arranged (1 or 2 per class or just distributed through the building)?
    Just through the building. In most places 1 AP covers 4 classes (2 up 2 down). In the new steel framed block we have 1 per class. Having 2 per class probably isn't going to work unless you have load balancing. Ours do but it crashed it the minute I switched it on. Also the D-Link load balancing is dumb - you just set the max number of clients that can connect to the first AP before they go onto the second. The managed loadbalancing like BlueSocket is much better: It will connect a PC to an AP that is further away but less busy if it means you get better throughput. Ours will all hook onto the AP that is shouting the loudest.

    Do you carefully avoid channel overlaps or do you not worry about it.
    I did but now I let the APs autoselect their channel so some are on 2, 5 etc.. Not sure if that is best but it ain't broke so I never fixed it.

    And - would your colleagues agree with your assesment of the situtation
    Yes. And if they didn't there'd be trouble!

    In some places we put high-gain antennae on the APs and/or the desktops to get the signal strength up.

  8. #23

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    We have two lapsafes of 16 machines each in a middle school - years 5 to 8.
    They are Acers and we have a lot of problems as they are not very robust and keys flip off easily. We also have probs with the power cables coming unplugged. Most of the machines are usually flat, and with rubbish wireless connections and a hungry network management system, it can take 15 mins to log on and then only 5 at a time. And they lose the connection, although strangely the teacher laptops (Dell) in the same areas do not.
    I hate them and they cause more grief than anything else does.

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    To be honest i think that primary school children will look after the laptops more than say high school children will

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    In the end its not happened, I think the SMT finally got round to watching the Panorama and called all wifi off for now until they can make a overall school policy on it, with consultation with IT on it. Which is a godsend, it means we can keep going as normal and do things at our own pace.

    As for laptops, we may get a couple for use by them but as its only a couple I suspect we will just get some HPs as they are nice kit and cheap enough.

    So thanks to all for the info and offers etc it was really useful and I hope its useful for some others in the future, and when we re-visit this area I will be back with vengance

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleSi
    What makes of laptop have you found the best and robust,
    Toshibas and Dell have been the most robust.
    You must be joking.......

    Besides working as ICT Technician in a Primary School, I also install Espresso, KnowledgeBox and a few other products in schools across the country. The number of times I open a lap trolley and find a pile of Toshiba laptops with keys missing, cracked screens, and other damage! In the school I work at we have always had Toshiba laptops (even the head's has a key missing!) but have just invested in a batch of Lenovo laptops - they have not been subjected to children yet but certainly seem more robust. Also my personal laptop is Lenovo and I am very pleased wit the build quality.

    On the subject of wireless - how can any school survive without it??? We have 10 access points spread across 13 classrooms, a meeting room and ICT Suite and never have any significant connectivity problems. The biggest issue we have is the wireless switch being turned off on a laptop.

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Good planning in buildings that are new / recently refurbished means that cat5 is plentyful, floorboxes, wall sockets, ceiling sockets etc all over the place.

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    Re: Laptops + Primay School Ages

    Quote Originally Posted by john
    Good planning in buildings that are new / recently refurbished means that cat5 is plentyful, floorboxes, wall sockets, ceiling sockets etc all over the place.
    That's great for new buildings......
    But I have spent over a week putting in new cable runs for new desktop machines - and our building is not exactly old as it was built 12 years ago.

    For fixed machines it has to be wired networking every time - but laptops and PDAs are, by nature, portable - so wireless makes lots of sense to me.
    h

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    RE Laptops

    Yep the RM ones do have a good battery life if you manage the charging when they need it. I have them in several schools and have a simple paper chart inside the trolly door that people fill in thier rough usage and then somebody recharges at 3 1/2 hrs. 2 sets ate over 2 yrs old and batterys are still good. I force the internal cards to 801.1a rather them g (rest of teachers laptops on that) and ensure the trolly is plugged in to the network near the laptops use. I use 2 Dlink waps on each trolly and only have the odd laptop drop off when everydody logs into domain at once. I found that the avarage bandwidth on 801a much better the n g or super g when it comes to many laptops in one place.
    Yes they cost but if i can find out a replacement asus unit that is similar speced i shall use.
    Wish i could use cheeper but havnt found a better solution with low overhead yet

  15. 2 Thanks to nutskin:

    Andie (9th June 2008), john (24th April 2008)

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    We (junior school) are just investigating wireless/laptops/trolleys, as Head very keen. This has been a very helpful thread, and given me lots to think about. Suspect the budget agreed by Governors based on cobbled together info (because we need to come up with a figure now) will be way too small to do a proper job (what's new!!).

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