The Reality of Laptops in the Classroom

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I have a whole school of new computers. For our classrooms we have, based on our student population, 19 laptop carts with 30 laptops per cart. The laptops are split by teaching teams of 4 teachers and can be used as needed in classes as determined in team planning. So, one day a teacher may have 22 laptops of the 30 on the cart for a 1 on 1 lesson or the laptops may be split 7-8 per class for small learning groups. The idea is great and is new to our school so it has its bugs and kinks to work out.

Here are a few things that we considered and are now working on ideas to improve the use of the laptops as we move forward.

  1. Laptops must be checked in and out each period for security.
  2. Wireless needs to be able to handle the bandwidth.
  3. Software must be installed across the complete group of computers.
  4. Power needs for length of use need to be addressed.
  5. Students need to be assigned a laptop.

The biggest of these is the security issues. You have laptops that can be easily placed in a backpack so you need to keep a close eye on them at the beginning and end of each change in classes to avoid loss of laptops. The second issue that really needs to be addressed is the proper bandwidth for having 30 laptops working on an access point at one time. What is the range coverage, is it wide enough with enough overlapping access points to handle a load so that the teacher will be able to teach their lesson without interruption from a loss of connectivity. This issue is paramount to getting teacher buy in to using the laptops in their lessons, while instilling confidence in both the teachers and students in the technology.

Remember, if it doesn’t work, it won’t be used. You can have a few bugs, but as technology support we need to be able to work through these problems with authority the first time, eliminating them and learning from the experience.

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