Desktop virtualization leads to higher-quality education for one district

Virtualization helped one district boost student achievement and engagement.

By the time students wake up for the school day, teachers and faculty have already had their first cup of coffee for the morning and are reviewing a schedule that almost always seems to echo the reminder that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. This is the cycle of education.

A few years ago, Empire High School in Vail, Ariz., became the first school in the state to provide laptops to all 350 students and go completely digital—leaving traditional textbooks behind for a more modern approach. The upfront costs for this educational adoption were quite large, but the long-term benefits have been seen in every measurement from decreased financial costs to increased levels of student engagement. There once was a time, not so long back, when the availability of computers at any educational institution was a luxury. Today, computer access is an expected standard. Though for many school districts, the growing student population overwhelms consistent financial shortcomings.

On the other side of the country, Scotland County in North Carolina is home to 36,000 residents, a third of which are under the age of 20. Our 14-site public school system serves more than 6,100 K-12 students. As we are among one of the poorest school districts in the country, only a fraction of our district’s students have internet access at home and many don’t have access to computers at all. For several North Carolina school districts, the answer has been investing in laptops largely with grant funding. Yet after laptops are in place, schools must pay for continuous repair and maintenance, and again find funds for replacement a few years down the road.…Read More

Ed-tech companies promote money-saving solutions

Here are several ed-tech products and services aimed at saving schools money.

A desktop virtualization system that can turn one computer into four, and an innovative wireless solution that provides reliable coverage with fewer access points, are among the many new solutions aimed at helping schools implement technology without breaking their budgets. Here’s an overview of some of these latest ed-tech products.

Black Box Network Services says its VirtuaCore Computer Sharing system, which uses desktop virtualization to turn one CPU into four, can save schools up to 60 percent on hardware costs and between 60 and 70 percent on energy costs—while providing computers for more students or staff.

Schools can choose between kits that turn one CPU into either two or four fully functioning workstations without any loss in PC performance, Black Box says. All you need to extend the computing power of one machine to four users are monitors, keyboards, and mice for the other three users.…Read More

Virtual desktops: Imagine the possibilities for teaching and learning

Desktop virtualization holds promises for K-12 education.
Desktop virtualization holds promises for K-12 education.

Moving from the current use of desktop and laptop computers to a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) creates many possibilities for teaching and learning.

Imagine the possibilities if teachers could gain improved access to new software, software updates, and web-based resources that support teaching and learning. With VDI, when a division approves software for use, then teachers could gain access to the software overnight. This access could be provided to teachers throughout a division, or to particular groups of teachers, such as high school science teachers or elementary art teachers.

Divisions might even be able to approve additional software because the ease of deploying the software does not require significant human capital. Teachers could better use web-based resources because of better access to current versions of plug-ins.…Read More

College CIO: Embrace virtualization, but not too much

Virtualization can sometimes cause IT headaches, Herleman says.
Virtualization can sometimes cause IT headaches, Herleman says.

Using one computer to power many has saved money as school budgets have been slashed, but too much of this good thing can lead to “virtualization sprawl”—an emerging problem that one campus IT leader is determined to avoid.

Karl Herleman, CIO at Miami Dade College (MDC), has, like many technology decision makers, moved his eight-campus school toward virtualization in the past three years. This means one computer in a campus computer lab can power several machines, reducing the IT department’s costs and saving the college on its monthly energy bills.

MDC has trimmed its energy consumption by 10 percent since 2008, thanks largely to virtualization, Herleman said.…Read More