What a difference three years makes…

By David Angwin, Director of Marketing, EMEA for Wyse

Thin client computers are very much the future of digital classrooms.  Low power consumption, automatically updated and centrally managed, thin clients are enabling schools and colleges to install more computers per student while keeping down operational costs with improved reliability.

But, the argument for more thin computing in education is often blunted by a strongly held belief that thin clients can’t match powerful PCs for running the latest curriculum software and peripherals.

The reality is very different.  The latest steaming and virtualisation software (e.g. WSM and TCX) support rich multimedia including full Adobe Flash, high quality audio and full connectivity to every kind of educational peripheral from white boards to cameras to scanners.

Teachers and students who switch from PCs to thin clients report no difference in their experience except the thin clients start up much faster, are quieter and are personalised to their settings even when they log onto different machines in other classrooms.

Given the growing number of schools and colleges replacing PCS with thin clients in the classroom, why does this the myth that thin clients fall short on running educational applications persist?

The reason is the 2006 study by BECTA that did considerable good in promoting thin clients but also set out reservations about both multimedia and peripherals. The problem is BECTA hasn’t revised these concerns in the light of the latest technology nor the experience of teachers and children who are using thin computing infrastructure every day.

Given it is four years old next year, can we expect BECTA to do a formal review of thin computing? At the very least, the 2006 report should come with some gentle warning about how much it has passed its sell by date.

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Filed under Education, Green IT, ICT, Policy

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