New Ohio Elementary School Gets Thin Client Laptops
Students at Heritage Hill Elementary, a new public school in a low-income community outside Cincinnatti, will participate in an at-school, one-to-one program with thin-client laptops.
Princeton City Schools, in one of Cincinnati’s northern suburbs, plans to try out 288 thin client laptops with first- through fifth-graders when Heritage Hill Elementary students move into their new school next month, said Tim Dugan, the district's director of technology and information. Eighty-five percent of the school’s students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and less than a fifth of families have a computer
Nearby Lakota school district has about 800 thin clients among its 5,200 personal computers. John Laws, director of technology at Lakota, says the cost of thin client laptops, including a server for every 50 of them, comes to about $420 a unit, about half the cost of a desktop.
More districts putting basic computers in students' laps
Monday, December 10, 2007 3:02 AM
SPRINGDALE, Ohio (AP) -- It remains rare for school districts in Ohio to provide all their students with laptop computers.
But low-cost laptops, stripped of features in more-expensive units, are enabling districts to stretch their budgets while providing more computers for students.
Princeton City Schools, in one of Cincinnati's northern suburbs, plans to try out 288 thin client laptops with first- through fifth-graders when Heritage Hill Elementary students move into their new school next month, said Tim Dugan, the district's director of technology and information.
Most schools can't afford a computer for everyone, although some private or church-related schools provide them to each student and build that cost into tuition or fees.
"It'll close the digital gap for our kids and provide them with opportunities to participate in the global society," said Tianay Amat-Outlaw, principal of Heritage Hill, where 85 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches and less than a fifth of families have a computer.
Thin client systems function much like old computer monitors, which were linked to computer mainframes.
"We've almost come full circle," said John Laws, director of technology at the nearby Lakota school district, which has about 800 thin clients among its 5,200 personal computers.
"We put in thin clients where they made sense, desktops where they made sense and laptops where they made sense," Laws said.
Lakota, with about 18,500 students, maintains about the 5-to-1 ratio of students to computers recommended by the eTech Ohio Commission, the state agency that promotes educational technology for schools.
Laws said the cost of thin client laptops, including a server for every 50 of them, comes to about $420 a unit, about half the cost of a desktop.
"There's a lot of interest in the educational community," said Matt Howard, eTech spokesman. "If done well, it can reduce the cost of ownership and provide a higher degree of manageability."
Thin clients have some disadvantages, Laws said. They're fine for word-processing software or surfing the Internet, but slow and impractical for computer-aided design programs, Web design software and Photoshop.
Dawn Gordon, a first-grade teacher at Heritage Hill, said she can't wait to put a laptop on every desk. Her kids use shared computers only a half hour Tuesdays and Fridays.
"These computers will be great," she said. "They are already so savvy with them."
School options
A look at computer systems used in schools:
Desktop -- Personal computer that includes several units, such as processor, monitor and keyboard, making it independent of a network yet small enough to fit on an office desktop.
Laptop -- Portable unit that can be held on one's lap yet still capable of performing most of the functions of a desktop.
Thin client -- A basic laptop that does not contain a hard drive but relies on a network server computer to store memory and run programs.
Source: Associated Press
Laptops a Hit in Kansas City
Kansas City school officials say that the district's new laptop-lending program is exceeding all expectations. Students have had their laptops about seven weeks, so only time will tell whether once the novelty wears off the impact will persist. Teachers are hopeful. For some teachers, the laptops have allowed them to do things they have never been able to do before. Others, some of whom are more skeptical about the program, say that students are doing things on their own that they've never done before either, delving deeper and building stronger learning linkages. Students have been asked to use their laptops to create graphs, chart calculations and analyze information, creating their own presentations using statistical concepts. Students not only wrote the assigned essay, they added videos and other enhancements. Asked to write an ode, one student e-mailed his creation, set to music, to his teacher. While the program largely has gone smoothly, there have been a few problems. It's a struggle to stay ahead of tech savvy students and their efforts to get around the filtering system installed on the computers. Students do get caught up in the entertainment value of the computer and do things like checking e-mail during lectures. Overall, however, students really like having the laptops and are careful about doing things that would loose them daily use of the computers. District officials are cautious about the possibility of seeing any test score gains as a result of the laptop program. They see it as a way of leveling the playing field between city students and their suburban counterparts and of being sure that students are better prepared for college.
One to One handbook
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