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Windows Thread, Pros and cons of teacher PCs in Technical; At a primary school I support, SMT want all teachers to have laptops. It is envisaged that this will make ...
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    Pros and cons of teacher PCs

    At a primary school I support, SMT want all teachers to have laptops. It is envisaged that this will make life easier all round: teachers would carry everything they need with them and would plug in (or use wireless? I hope not!) to IWBs when they need to. One good thing: we will purchase a quality wireless solution. I can see support, maintenance and security issues, but would welcome others' advice. There would be around 15 laptops initially and we are also talking seriously about iPads.

    In regards to the security issue, we have four new Dell Latitudes with fingerprint readers. Unfortunately these have proved hard to set up in a useable and secure configuration. Frankly, I prefer remote desktop/thin client for access outside of school.

    I don't particularly want to stop this switch to laptops, but I want to be able to warn of any pitfalls in advance and to explain to the school how much extra of my time this is likely to take up.

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    rich_tech's Avatar
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    theres plenty of threads here about the pitfalls of using laptops in a school, it ups maintenance costs and time primarily is one of the complaints, add in things like "dropping them" "losing them" and so on

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    LeMarchand's Avatar
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    All my schools do this and it seems to be the norm - new staff assume that they will be issued a machine on their first day (if not before).

    Most of the extra work would be greatly lessened if SMT both led by example and were prepared to back up any policies. For example: if laptops were locked down to prevent ANY installations, or if damage had to be paid for by the staff member. With this sort of support, I don't think that you would have much of an increased workload (though you will get a lot of "board not working" calls which are really "I didn't plug it all in correctly" calls). Without it, prepare for hours of virus removal...

    From a security POV: use Bitlocker or TrueCrypt.

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    Oaktech's Avatar
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    lower: data security, higher: cost of purchase, cost to manage, costs to repair, cost to insure, cost of infrastructure.

    Thats been enough for our SMT to decide against

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    you will need spares as if a teacher is off (cba to drag laptop to work) that effectively means the smartboard is useless

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    The main thing is the extra support cost with laptops.
    As long as they factor in your extra time, a shorter lifespan and 'spare' machines everything will be rosy.

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    hardtailstar's Avatar
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    Our staff have a laptop and a pc in class room, we were thinking about trialling just the laptops connected to the IWB but it had more cons then pros.

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    We used to do staftops, then went to desktops for two years during transition to new site and wanted to stay that way but SLT wanted Laptops for all staff.

    So we bought them, they under perform, cause connectivity issues with IWB's, batteries die, they get droped, etc etc.. Even staff say they prefered the fixed terminals.

    We have spent 1000's on parts in the last 18 months.

    And in 18months time we will probably need to refresh the whole lot.

    Rob

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    Danp's Avatar
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    We are point blank refusing to replace laptops or give out any new ones. Desktops in every classroom and trying to squeeze as many as we can in offices around the buildings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    One good thing: we will purchase a quality wireless solution. I can see support, maintenance and security issues, but would welcome others' advice. There would be around 15 laptops initially and we are also talking seriously about iPads.
    If you want something to drive a SMARTBoard, I'd go for a fixed, "desktop" PC - either a nice all-in-one with dual graphics outputs to drive both a desktop monitor and the projector, or go for a wall-mounted PC, like the Acer Veriton. If staff want laptops, give them the cash (400?) and leave them to get on with it - that way whatever they do with it at home is their problem to sort out. If they want to use the laptop in school have them remote in to a Remote Desktop Services server in your school. Install AirServer or similar on all your PCs connected to SMARTBoards, then any teachers with iPads (or laptops, if they install matching software on them) can mirror their screens to the projected screen. Make sure you upgrade your wireless system first, though.

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    Personally I believe that the days of issuing laptops to teachers should be over - but in both my schools the teachers still expect it. We have many computers or netbooks they could use when out of their classrooom but they still demand a laptop. Which, like as not, gets left in the classroom overnight, open, and gets very very dusty.
    I do not have any issues with Smartboard connection - it is rare for a laptop to drop the board - I am seriously talking less than a handful of times in 8 years.
    We have the laptops locked down on the network so the staff cannot install anything - the idea being that they can use their own machines at home for that, so obviously I get asked to install educational software quickly, quite often. Offline files are enabled so they can see their documents at home and I install something like proxy pal so they can turn off the proxy and connect to the internet at home (The antivirus is configured to work either from the server or directly from the internet if the server isnt there). Generally speaking the machines stay in one piece but of course laptops often need new batteries or keyboards. There is sometimes an issue with VGA cables etc because they are continually being connected and disconnected.
    We buy reconditioned laptops from the lovely John Graham at ICT Direct - very good value. Luckily one of my heads agreed that the teachers need something functional, not flash.
    The other head is not so accomodating - I have just had to buy i5s for SMT.

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    I prefer staff having laptops to desktops, being a multi site school. Easier to set them up in the walk in safe to image them. If they leave them out over night I replace their i3/i5 laptop with a celeron laptop.

    No admin rights, wpad for proxy, offline files. Cisco wireless. Almost every staff member has a laptop, except a few admin people with desktops.

    We also have much more classroom swapping than is probably normal, so the ability to set up your lesson on your laptop and then just plug it in is useful. Of course management here realises that if you're paying teachers massive amounts of money per hour, it's worth paying a bit extra for them to work more efficiently.

    Only real issue is home printers, although win7 reduced the number of calls I got about that.

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    I work in a College and we issued all the lecturers in one of schools ( aka departments ) with laptops 5-6 years ago, roughly 50 staff, and took the desktops out the classrooms.

    Classrooms now have desktops back in. Laptops were nightmare in terms of maintenance and support even when locked down with group policy and an acceptable use policy ( which we activity enforce ). Biggest issue was time it was taking staff to setup laptop when they move between classes, people not plugging things in, wireless drop outs, lost/broken laptops and supply cover.

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    We've found the ability to set up your computer for the upcoming lesson in advance, load all the files you want, websites etc, then suspend, move to classroom, plug in projector and IWB cable, and not have to turn on/login to desktop outweighs the problems of the occasional dropped laptop. Of course it relies on your SMT realising that if you're paying teachers that much per minute it's worth giving IT a decent budget to avoid wasting their time.

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    nowadays with USB 3 the need for lots and lots of wires to be plugged in and out is reduced via USB 3 docks. Although these can be expensive.

    It means that all that requires to be plugged in is a power supply and single USB lead. This means all other cabling (monitors, projectors, network leads etc) and all run via the USB 3.0 dock.

    Targus USB 3.0 SuperSpeed

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