Date: June 17th, 2009
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary
It seems that "more computers" is what I'm being asked for most of all! TEAM, High School Math and English, Middle School lab, new Intermediate School Math Intervention room not to mention the individual teachers that would like them. Fortunately this is coinciding with the establishment of new "netbook" (read small laptop) and "nettop" (small desktop) computers based on the new Intel Atom processors. These are small, cheap, energy efficient and powerful and flexible enough to be used either as stand alone clients or thin clients.
We're currently evaluating netbooks to put together a new mobile cart for the High School English department, our Dell rep has been in and we have "loaners" from 3 other manufactures. The Dell netbook fits into a cart specifically designed for K-12, unfortunately it currently only holds 24 computers so I don't know if that will work for us. These are all in the $300-$500 range which makes this very feasible. One problem with the mobile cart we had a few years ago was that it wasn't well looked after. I'm hoping that by giving it to a department rather than a whole school we get more "ownership" of it, and having a smaller group of teachers manage it between themselves will work more smoothly I think. If it works well we'll expand the model.
At the same time over the summer we're looking at modestly expanding our thin-clients using the nettop boxes. It seems to me that a combination of these cheaper (~$150 for the nettops), flexible low powered machines, web based applications (like the new Apex program we'll be starting with next year to name just one), thin clients/netbooks and making use of free software where we can, will mean we're realistically able to move toward the goal of one computer per child without having to pay the earth for it.
Mainly though I'm looking forward to it all going quiet for a couple of months so we can get our teeth into some projects!