By David Angwin, marketing director, EMEA, Dell Cloud Client-computing
IT departments are a luxury many schools cannot afford and, faced with shrinking budgets, head teachers are often forced to delegate IT tasks to teachers, reducing the amount of time they can spend in the classroom. This can lead to IT issues being open for much longer, interrupting the flow of curriculum and spoiling the learning experience. The bulk of these issues are down to legacy PCs, which can be slow, difficult to navigate and costly to set up and maintain.
There is a solution for secondary schools to consider. Enter client virtualization, or thin client computing, a solution which addresses many of the IT challenges schools face and delivers benefits that dramatically improve the learning experience.
Boot-up in seconds
When operating with thin clients – small, lightweight computers that are purpose built for remoting into a server – client virtualization reduces the time constraints of lesson for IT teachers, as students can start up thin client systems in 10 seconds, enabling instant access to their desktop on any machine. This helps teachers to quickly proceed with delivering lessons and maximise learning time.
Another common worry for teachers in schools lacking IT support resources is persistently faulty PCs. Lacking the know-how and time it would take to repair them, teachers often write off certain computers, taking them as sunk costs of old kit. Client virtualization tackles faulty PCs head-on, as it allows for immediate and remote trouble-shooting. This helps to drastically reduce the IT repairs list – no longer will there be a permanently broken ‘PC number 24’ in classroom B on the 4th floor – thereby enabling teachers to focus more on their own expertise, and less on being IT engineers.
Traditional PCs are far from energy efficient. 100watt devices emit about as much heat as the average student creating a temperature that most school buildings were not designed to accommodate. Heat is a drag on lessons – a hot and sweaty classroom is hardly conducive to active listening and absorbing knowledge – and Salford University last year concluded that “considerations of daylight, temperature and air quality have the most influence on children’s progress”. IT systems must be able to support this type of environment.
Client virtualization makes classrooms not only cooler but also quieter – students must often talk over the loud disks and fans of traditional units, making it hard for teachers to listen and lead the discussion and even discouraging students from chipping in. With no fans and up to 90% less energy consumption per unit, thin clients emit substantially less heat and noise, allowing students and teachers to focus on the things they should be hearing and pondering.
Finally, with classrooms only poised to get larger, client virtualization also helps to save valuable space; networked thin clients can be conveniently mounted on the wall, and the monitor on an arm, for maximum space efficiency.
It also makes for an improved learning environment with happier, quicker and less frustrated teachers pursuing their passion in cooler, quieter and learning-conducive surroundings. It’s a compelling case for secondary schools across the UK.