We are looking into starting a 1 to 1 computer initiative in our district. The plan is to start buying laptops for incoming 9th grade students every year. The problem is we have to act fast while we have some extra funding for the next 4 years. We are also under a considerable amount of pressure to do this.
So I know there are some major problems I have thought of and probably a ton I havent even considered. I am curious what everyone else is doing and what can be done to fix these problems.
Problem 1) We are severely understaffed, 3 people 13 sites, 3700 computers, 22 servers and 5300 users. What recommendations do you have to limit the impact of this on my IT Staff? We have thought about wyse computing or some other thin client. I know that has its limitations.
Problem 2) Keeping them charged. How do you keep them charged? We have debated all kinds of things, such as buying an extra battery with a charger that can charge multiple batteries at once.
Problem 3) Teacher buy in. How do you make teachers embrace the change. I know from smartboards and other large initiatives that is the factor you must have and sometimes it is the hardest thing to achieve. Any suggestions? We are talking about providing the teachers with an identical laptop this year so they re used to their performance.
Problem 4) Keeping them safe. What happens to laptops during lunches, school assemblies and such? Currently the lockers are probably not big enough to hold the laptops properly.
Problem 5) The big one! How do I secure these? I figure I could install deepfreeze of compuguard on them to prevent viruses,w hile leaving a thawed space. However, there are so many other issues concerning this. What have others done about this?
Whether I like it or not, it looks like these changes are going to be forced into action. Sometimes I sit back and wonder why they ask for my opinion. Apparently when you tell people things they dont want to hear they lose respect for your opinion but at any rate thats a topic for another day.
I think the most cost effective would be managed wireless, terminal servers, application like XenApp, cheap netbooks with long battery life. I'm trying to steer towards this at the moment after the VDI route was too costly, but we are only 1500 users.
Problems would be:
All you applications would have to be agreeable with virtualisation, you might have to lose some in the process.
Expensive licensing on a per concurrent connection.
Poor performance for heavy media work (depends on application).
If the netbook screens are small it may hamper some applications / websites.
Good things would be:
Netbooks are easier to secure and store in a smaller space
Long battery life so no recharges or spares needed.
Central management which if you are understaffed would be a big deal.
Remote access for everyone giving exactly the same applications / desktop through a web portal.
Consistent environment both in and out of the building should aid the change for teaching staff.
You can save on licensing and antivirus by using a Linux distribution like Thinstation to boot straight into the remote login, could probably go via VPN back into the school servers from home - No need to lock the machines down as everything goes over the network. Or just leave a web browser accessible on it to access a web portal.