As for stuff pulling cables out for their laptops and the likes, put a VGA switch box ([ame=http://www.amazon.com/2-1-VGA-Switchbox-DB15/dp/B000BSN1NE]Example @ Amazon[/ame]) and then have a lead that runs up to the desk that they can use and all they need to do is flick a switch without touching the desktop.
Originally Posted by Flakes
Just don't run the desktop straight into it, duplicate the desktop output so that it goes to the monitor and the box leaving it usable whilst a laptop is active. Some people run the desktop and laptop into the switchbox then the duplicator off the output and have the dup. running to the monitor and the projector which makes the desktop unusable since it has no monitor.
This way you can also have a desktop in each room and then staff decide what they want to use, This also helps if a laptop breaks or a replacement teacher is in or the likes.
A small(ish) diagram of what i mean:
A couple of my schools have recently moved away from laptops in the classrooms on the IWB's because a) as a result the staff either tend to leave them there and not use them for PPA/home work or;
b) they do unplug them and take them home and VGA cables aren't designed to do this too often, resulting in unreliable cables and the occasional broken VGA port on laptop with ham-fistedness.
On 2 sites we bought in a load of RM machines with a dedicated graphics card so we can drive a monitor (one batch is RMOnes) and projector simultaneously without the need of switchboxes/splitters, + having the ability to use them as separate screens if need be - teacher can still work on computer whilst the kids are watching whatever on the IWB.
This has been rather popular; they're only primary schools so it wasn't difficult to implement but all staff have been more than happy to have a usable laptop as well as a decently specified computer for the IWB.
Plus, as a direct result the IWB machines are now on the relevant CC3/CC4 system so software allocation to just those machines is useful :D
We appear to be moving towards a dual solution - namely desktops, and laptops. The desktops will be set up as the IWB driving machines, and the laptops are for staff to whizz around with and do work on, say, at home.
Due to the fact that keeping a fleet of 35 laptops and 35 desktops running would cost us a small fortune, we're making their working lives longer. So, instead of the 3 years desktops, they will hit 4 or 5 years and the same with the laptops (although, I have already started to implement this anyway, as there is nothing wrong with most of our 3 year old laptops we currently have, so why replace them?).
We ditched the desktop PC in each classroom when we brought in the laptops for teachers scheme just over 3 years ago. Having been involved with the whole project, I'm glad we did. To replace a ridiculous amount of old desktops in classrooms was going to be a nightmare.
There are still a few odd connection issues (on wireless or IWB) with the less able teachers, but it enables the member of staff to work from home with remote e-mail/serco; and with the huge amount of classroom changes that take place, there's no excuse for a laptop not working (as it's their own responsibility) and not being able to get on with the lesson. The vast training we've done has helped immensely! They can't blame a fixed desktop PC not working because someone else hasn't reported it. There are far more positive points going with the laptop than fixed computer I think in today's world.
Much better wireless technology, better hardware is now cheaper, and choosing the right laptop (size/weight/portability/features) is also key (which I think some organisations don't look at enough!).