Our experience with carts has been very positive, and I can think of no
better way to provide the access teachers want and students need without
having to drag kids to the ³wired² lab. We also do not have space for more
than one lab, and with 15 classrooms (plus Unified Arts) =250+ students in
the middle school one lab is just not enough.

Cycle: we do 3-year leases, and are just about to retire our oldest
generation of laptops at six years (!). This is a BIT too old, but they are
holding on. We have replaced most of the original batteries, but most lasted
3-4 years. That said, the labs were not used in the earlier years as heavily
as they are now, and a couple of our 3-year olds are beginning to need
battery replacement already. Still not bad, and I consider this a
justifiable expense to keep them going. Battery prices are also going down,
but you get what you pay for. BTW does anyone have a suggestion for
disposing spent Lithium batteries?

As for maintenance, yes it IS a bit more time consuming, but again I think
the time is well spent when I walk by classrooms where students are learning
core subjects ³in place² and computers are wherever we want them, whenever
we need them. As I worked in one of our ³project rooms² today with our Lego
Robotics club I also had a discussion with the facilitator about how such
applications would just not be possible without portable labs. Laptops are
also much more conducive to collaborative projects ­ three kids at one table
vs. trying to cluster chairs in a lab.

Eric Hall
Technology Coordinator
Waterbury/Duxbury Schools
Washington West Supervisory Union
Waterbury, VT
(802) 244-6100

on 4/1/09 8:48 AM, Steve Cavrak wrote:

> On Mar 31, 2009, at 7:40 PM, Bjorn Behrendt wrote:
>> Something to consider is that the batteries only last about 3 years before it
>> no longer holds a charge.  ~ my theory is that the mobile lab should be on a
>> 3-4 year replacement cycle anyways.
> (1) The replacement cycle is an important point to consider - one way to make
> this somewhat easier is to move towards a leasing model - so that there is
> base funding for computing.
> (2) We've had good luck so far with a cart that has two racks of notebooks in
> them - we leave the notebooks on, so they charge for 6 hours, then discharge a
> bit for 6 hours. This is a cycle, I gather, designed to prolong the life of
> the battery - leaving them on charge too long destroys their memory ?
> (3) In our case, these are all Macintosh notebooks running XP as a Parallels
> application. Windows 7 has been shown to run very nicely under VMWare, so
> that's another option for them.
> Steve