Need More Computers? Practice Multiplication…

Posted on April 8, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Kevin S. Merritt, Instructional Technology

A recent article in eSchool News highlighted two products that can help schools save on hardware, software, and infrastructure costs.  The products are from Userful and NComputing.  The products take a slightly different approach to making one computer become multiple computers.  Both approaches, however, were born from the same concept.

 Think about how most schools use their computers.  Students are using them for keyboarding lessons, email, word processing, and other “low utilization” programs.  Most computers that have been purchased within the past 2-3 years have performance to spare.  Enter: Userful and NComputing products.  These products allow other users to connect to and tap the “unused” capacity of most computers.  Through their proprietary hardware and/or software, schools can allow multiple students to use a single computer while allowing each student to still have their own monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Check out each company’s website for more information about how their technology works.  In the end, you may be able to get additional “computers” for about 20-30% of the cost of a new one!  Also, you can put to work all of those old monitors, keyboards, and mice that you have lying around!

As you consider the technology, be sure to ask the following questions when you contact the companies:

1.  How does this affect software licensing?
2.  If my students have usernames and passwords on our network, do they each get to use their own logins to have access to their network folders and resources?
3.  Are there discounts on large orders?
4.  Are there additional costs for technical support?  Is it a one-time fee or an annual contract?
5.  Do you have a toll-free number for support?
6.  What are the warranties on the products?
7.  What are repair/replacement costs if needed?

You may have other questions as well.  Keep in mind that the answers you receive to these and other questions MAY mean that these products might NOT be right for your situation.  Make sure you also speak to your district technology staff and get their opinions and input since they may ultimately be the ones who have to support and troubleshoot whatever you purchase!


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