California District Approaches 1:1 Computing Through Virtualization

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As we've reported previously, a number of education institutions and other types of organizations have moved toward virtualization to reduce overhead costs and address environmental concerns. Now one district in California, Dublin Unified School District, is taking it a step further by virtualizing student computers in an effort to move closer to 1:1 computing in the classroom.

The idea was, once the school reached a certain number of computers per student, to move those computers out of labs and into classrooms. Then, by virtualizing those systems, more computer resources became available to students. With two computers per classroom each running two NComputing X300 virtualization kits, 14 students per classroom can use computers simultaneously. This brings the ratio of students to computers to about 2:1, a significant step closer to providing one computer per student.

"When the student-to-PC ratio moves from about 9:1 to 3:1, it makes sense to get the computers out of the labs and into the classrooms," said Stephen Dukker, chairman and CEO of NComputing, in a statement released Monday. "And once there are enough computing stations in each classroom, the teachers can personalize lesson plans, be more productive, and better engage their students."

The cost per student for the deployment, according to NComputing, was around $70 per student.

The NComputing X300 kits include virtualization software and hardware. The hardware units are in effect dumb terminals in and of themselves, but they run off the excess computing power of the host systems to provide standard desktop performance for common applications. Students' monitors, mice, and keyboards connect to the host system through an NComputing access device.

The access devices themselves consume as little as 1 watt per user, according to NComputing, a small fraction of the power consumed by desktops and even low-power laptops.

"Students are much more involved during class due to the increased personal attention they are receiving from teaching staff and are also highly receptive to the use of computers in the classroom setting," said Tim McCarty, director of technology and information services for Dublin USD, in a statement released this week. "Affordable desktop virtualization technology is truly changing the way we teach."

According to the company, about 1 million NComputing seats have been sold in more than 90 countries, and its technologies are used in about 4,000 schools.

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About the author:David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles is available on this site.


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