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Press Release: School District improves student access to computers: Going Green and Saving Green!

School District improves student access to computers: Going Green and Saving Green!

Place: Huron Elementary School
Date: February 10, 2010
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: 12 & N Street / PO Box 370
Huron, CA 93234
Phone: (559) 945-2236
Fax: (559) 945-1215
Principal: Arturo Duran (aduran@chusd.k12.ca.us)

A ribbon cutting ceremony today at the Coalinga-Huron Joint Unified School District recognized the district as the first within the Fresno County Office of Education with a program to achieve carbon neutral IT capabilities and Computer Innovation Learning Centers (CILCs).

“Research shows that technology can facilitate better teaching and learning, but only when used judiciously,” said Dr. English, Superintendent of Coalinga-Huron Joint Unified School District (CHJUSD). “And that starts at the very top, with strong district leadership. If you start with a clear vision how to implement technology effectively, and you make sure your staff is well supported and trained, and you seek to change instructional practices to leverage technology’s potential, then technology really can empower education. That’s part of the opportunity the Chevron grant provided to the district.”

In 2009, the challenges seemed insurmountable. The Coalinga-Huron Joint Unified School District computer labs’ aging PCs were unable to run the innovative and necessary e-learning software, Istation, it had recently purchased to provide individualized reading instruction and benchmarking for each student. Worse still, the heat generated by the old PCs and CRT monitors made the computer labs unbearably hot and noisy while expending unnecessary energy. With a limited budget and IT staff, “finding a cost-effective solution was daunting but not impossible,” said Asst. Superintendent of Business, Stan Dobbs who also serves as the district’s Chief Technology Officer.

With 35 classrooms and three computer labs, Huron Elementary School exemplified the school district’s technology challenges. The computer labs in the school had difficulty running a new e-learning application and there weren’t enough computers to meet the needs of the students. “We realized it would take us several years to save the money we needed just to buy the computers for any lab,” said District Superintendent Dr. Cecelia Greenberg-English. “And that meant our investment in the new software would be wasted.”

As with most schools, CHJUSD’s budget for purchasing new PCs was extremely limited, as was the size of the district’s IT staff at a 600:1 ratio, which would be a daunting task of deploying any new technology and the applications they would run.

“In the past, we purchased the newest and latest complete work stations that offered only a short life span of maybe three years before requiring a total replacement,” said Paul Martinez, the Senior Information Technologist at CHJUSD.

The decision was made to go with the Smart Vine(TM) LG Electronics and Ncomputing solution provided by Daytona Storage. This unique solution maximizes a computer’s resources by allowing up to 11 users to share a single PC simultaneously. Each user runs their own applications, just like if they had their own PC. Smart Vine Ncomputing technology simplifies installation as well as reduces maintenance, IT support and energy consumption compared with multiple computers.

“Initially there wasn’t a way to connect the Smart Vine Ncomputing solution to the Istation Software. The District made a technical recommendation to Ncomputing companies to build a patch that would allow the products to work together,” said Asst. Supt. Dobbs.

“After a month of technical collaboration and using the Dawson Elementary CILC as a national test lab, the international solution was perfected by Ncomputing Engineers to the benefit of all educational providers of the future,” according to Dawson Elementary Principal, Judy Horn who recommended the product to the district.

“We needed to find a solution that the district could
afford, and that our IT team could deploy and support
without being overwhelmed,” added Board President Ray
Zubiri. “We also needed a flexible solution that would
bring more PC desktops to our classrooms and computer Learning labs.

After working with Craig Burchfiel at Daytona Storage we decided that the Smart Vine solution from LG Electronics and Ncomputing would help us meet all of those needs.

Craig Burchfiel at Daytona Storage provided the “Ncomputing Smart Vine LG solution and was able to show us how we could take advantage of the computing power in desktop PCs,” said Dobbs. “They also showed us how we could dramatically cut the time it took our IT team to deploy and support our district’s computers.”

The desktop virtualization software and hardware of the Smart Vine Ncomputing solution taps the unused capacity of today’s powerful PCs by simultaneously sharing it among multiple users, spreading out the cost of the PC, and typically providing four times the number of seats for the same money. The Ncomputing virtualization software works with standard Windows PCs, and each user’s monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and highly reliable Ncomputing access device. The device itself has no CPU, memory or moving parts, so it’s easy to deploy and maintain. The model CHJUSD chose gets its power through the network cable, reducing cable clutter and the need to install extra power outlets.

CHJUSD is going Green and saving green. Each new Computer Innovation Learning Centers (CILC) requires only six PC’s instead of 36 computers for future replacement – reducing initial costs and landfill e-Waste by 85 percent.

“The complete installation at Huron Elementary took just one day. Before, it would have taken the better part of a week causing access issues for the teachers and students,” said Principal Arturo Duran. “And the environment was immediately more pleasant for learning, with the heat and noise eliminated. Just as important, we were able to install the Smart Vine/Ncomputing Solution along with high-end Acer PCs, keyboards and an optical mouse for significantly less than what we spent when we last upgraded the lab thanks to the generosity of our financial sponsor Chevron.”

The cost for the Smart Vine/Ncomputing solution per seat cost is very affordable, with typical savings of 85 percent on hardware, 75 percent on maintenance and 90 percent on electricity.
The development of an increasingly digital society, and the emergence of a new era of accountability in the nation’s schools, has changed our expectations of the District leadership. As school leaders rely on technology like the Smart vine/Ncomputing Solution, to engage students’ interest, track their progress, personalize instruction,
and aid in decision making, an understanding of how technology works and how it can be used to transform teaching and learning is an increasingly essential characteristic for the 21st-century school management
Team, says Asst. Supt. Stan Dobbs.

“The Smart Vine Solution with LG and Ncomputing made me a hero,” said Principal Duran. “Our new e-learning software now works perfectly, preserving our IT investment. And we have more computers available to our students than we ever thought we’d be able to afford. We literally would not have adequate lab space today at our school if not for the Smart Vine by LG and Ncomputing technology.”

“The sleek monitors and advanced technology from both LG and Ncomputing make a fantastic addition to the school. Rolling out this technology deployment has been very easy, and we’ve experienced virtually no problems,” said Superintendent Dr. English. “It has been a great investment for the district, Craig Burchfiel at Daytona Storage has made a huge impact on our ability to increase the number of computers in each of our schools. As a result of increased student access to our e-learning programs, we are seeing learning improvements throughout the district.”

By Stan Dobbs
Asst. Supt. Business Services

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