Category Archives: Green IT

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

Marks out of Ten for Microsoft Windows 7 in the Classroom?

Microsoft Windows 7 is hitting the shops from today. What are  the implications for classroom ICT?

Merlin John’s education and ICT blog includes a report on a Microsoft white paper on the results of trialling the new operating  system  in several schools. Worthwhile reading their findings and downloading the report but one comment  does standout: Windows 7 slashes power bills enough to pay for a new junior member of staff. 

Twynham School in Dorset reckons it will see a £20,000+ reduction in its annual power bill through  deploying  Windows 7.  There’s no explanation in the article but perhaps it reflects how the new OS is designed to run on newer generations of netbooks that are more energy efficient?  Be great to find out more.

But, you have to question how much Windows 7 alone will bring down IT-related energy bills.  The real problem  of energy greedy ICT  lies in the wasteful power consumption and heat output of traditional desk-top PCs.  A new OS isn’t going to fix this. Look at the experience of those schools who moved away from traditional PC desktop hardware  entirely – while giving teachers and students  getting the same, if not better access to PC applications and data – to find harder evidence of cost savings from new classroom ICT that is inherently more energy efficient, reliable and easier to maintain and manage long-term.


Filed under Education, Green IT, ICT, Microsoft Windows 7