… power bars?
As I look to my left, it looks like it’s time for a little cable management here.
The inspiration for this post came from a private Twitter conversation that I had with Andy Forgrave. He was working late and shared some pictures of his classroom and what was needed to make all his gadgets work. If you know Andy, you know those would be significant needs!
In the beginning, I was pretty lucky. In the Business Department of my high school, we had two keyboarding rooms, a business machines room, and a computer room all built into the school when the structure was built. So, putting computers in place of electric typewriters was a no-brainer. It also gave the Business Department the sole ownership of the first rounds of technology.
Like many classrooms, every other room (except for the shops) basically had two outlets in the classroom. One was at the front for an overhead projector and the other was at the back near the sink. Neither were really good options for plugging anything student computer-y into them.
Later, as a consultant and visiting older schools, I came to realize that those two outlets were to die for in some of the older structures. A more common solution was to have one outlet per classroom – again near the sink. Whaaaaa?
Putting computers into schools is a costly factor. In the beginning, there were typically one or two machines for each classroom. Even here, you needed one outlet for the computer and, for some models, another outlet for the monitor. The quick fix was to drop into Canadian Tire and buy power bars to make things work. It was obviously a very short term solution that needed a bigger solution as time went by. Before long, computer acquisitions always involved conversations and pricing with the Facility Services people to pull electricity into locations where we’d guess the computers would be used best. That always didn’t work like we thought though. With new schools, it was an essential part of the planning. Thousands and thousands of dollars were spent to put in electricity and often the additional circuits needed to get the technology at the point of student instruction.
After a while, it wasn’t just for computers. You might add a SMART Board and/or a data projector and then all the things that Special Needs students require. It seemed like a never ending story of implementation.
Then, things got a great deal different. Hey, we could buy carts or tubs that only require one outlet and it charged laptops and tablets that were placed inside. There was a huge compromise; these were less powerful environments than a good desktop computer.
You’d think that this would be a “problem solved” scenario. But, kids are kids and it’s common that plugs and outlets would get damaged from use. Or, you’d think that you had enough in place and a storage room became an educational space. Or, sometimes, they would go missing and you always have to be careful about last class of the day use of the technology.
That’s the thing about a lot of technology. It needs power and a lot of planning to work!
How about your situation?
- Do you have enough electricity in your classroom?
- How many power bars does it require to make things work?
- Have you moved to a UPS (uninterruptable power source) instead?
- Does a rechargable device (laptop, tablet, …) meet your needs or are there times when you really need that desktop computer?
- Do you still have a “computer lab” or has that been disbanded?
- Does your school support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)? Are students able to get through the day or do they require charging services as well?
Please share your thoughts via comment. Andy and I would love to read them.
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