Teachers in Okaloosa County, Florida are getting all their laptop computers replaced with desktop machines. We’ve all pondered the idea of mobile laptops for teachers that they could use at home or at work and have full access to install programs and be responsible for backing up files on, but what are the benefits?
From a technology staff stand point, we don’t really care. Apple has finally created desktop iMacs and laptops that are easy to open and maintain. iBooks have 44 screws on them to remove the harddrive or optical drive; today’s iMacs have an easily removable glass pane and a few screws and MacBooks are also a few screws from removing the bottom cover to access all the easily removeable guts. Sadly, budgets keep us from buying the newest and greatest for all the schools at once. So I’ll be keeping my hex wrench and screw driver readily available.
From at data view, mobile laptops are a nightmare. Without joining them to a network server, we can’t be sure all a users files are backed up. They are easily stolen, left at home, dropped and attacked by cable-loving pets. In a county with 23 schools worth of teachers, I couldn’t imagine troubleshooting computers that I didn’t know what the base installed software/operating system was, assuming we also gave teachers free reign over their laptops like NETS*T programs do. When desktops break, we hook two computers up together and “clone” them from one another, solving 95% of software/operating system issues, leaving user data untouched thanks to a server.
Do we also need wireless access because of the nature of a laptop to be moved? I don’t think so. With no cheap solution to building wide wireless access, we struggle to keep up with 20% of a building’s faculty armed with ipods and laptops by installing . iPads have also been adding to that problem.
But is the problem really making the choice for teachers instead of offering it, maintaining the network for desktops and only doing troubleshooting and repairs for laptops without data management? It’s an interesting debate to follow, for sure.