Wired or wireless in classrooms..

If you need just classrooms and not the entire building or school grounds then (IMHO) wire is a way to go.

Reply to
Eugene F.
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Do they each and every one definitely have WiFi?

You can do that with wired or wireless, just put a router in each classroom and power it down when it's not in use.

How about limited power WiFi per classroom? Of course, this is where

802.11a would really excel...

Personally, I'd much rather deal with WiFi than cables, dead jacks, and wiring and maintaining a wired infrastructure.

Reply to
William P.N. Smith


We're in the process of deciding which kind of network connections we should install in our high-school classrooms.

Every student have their own notebook and they need internet access in addition to file- and print services.

The notebooks need power so they won't be completely wireless in any case. With wired CAT6 we have plenty of bandwidth and control of whether or not each classroom is connected to the internet.

With wireless we have limited bandwidth and a certain configuration hassle (encryption etc) . But going wireless is certainly more hype...

Any opinions and comments on our situation?


Reply to
Geir Holmavatn

One consideration is the ability for the teacher to pull the plug. At my school, the network comes in on cat5 and plugs into the wall right there in the front of the classroom. The Internet for the whole room is wired to that one plug in the front. With pervasive wireless, it will be much more difficult for a teacher to pull the plug.

Reply to

Hi, I'm based in the UK, I am a Cisco network engineer; we have just finished a wireless implementation in a School. The school classrooms were covered 100%; we used 1200 Cisco Aironet access points, 10 in total.

Reply to

Our school system (10 schools) has WiFi in all schools and, in some schools, WiFi in all classrooms. The features are great, but maintenance is ugly.

Laptops do not need power cords. We run our laptops on batteries. In fact, the major reason why we bought laptops instead of (cheaper) desktops is that electrical codes made running extension cords all over existing classrooms nearly impossible. There are several large problems with laptop batteries: (1) Batteries do not last long enough on days when the curriculum calls for heavy use. We expected our grade 4/5 kids to carry extra batteries and to swap them when needed. Bummer; better with H.S. kids, but expect some breakage. (H.S. and M.S. kids understand how, but they are very careless and will always be forced to mess with battery swaps while under time-pressure.) (2) We put battery chargers in each wireless classroom, and we let young kids swap batteries. Bummer; more breakage. Also, we bought Brand-X offline battery chargers, and they were *very* unreliable. (3) Batteries have a finite lifetime, and you cannot easily predict end of life for a given battery. Guesswork and trying to stretch lifetimes costs extra maintenence time/money. (4) Replacement batteries are expensive, and are a tempting target for budgetary line-item slashing. Not a problem if your school system has unlimited funding. ;-)

Laptop power cords are extremely fragile. In an environment where kids take a laptop from its nest to run on batteries for one class, then re-nest after the class, those power cords need very frequent repair or replacement. In hindsight, we should have budgeted those wallwarts as consumables and planned on near-annual replacement.

If you go WiFi, then make sure you only use laptops with integrated WiFi NICs and built-in antennas. In a school environment, plug-in (PCMCIA) NICs and external (USB) NICs are rather frequently stolen, and are easily broken in transit. Also note that even built-in WiFi NICs seem to have a shorter lifetime than other laptop components.

In our pilot program, our model was that the laptop belonged to the kid; we allowed and expected each kid to take their laptop home at night for homework, and to fire up their laptop in the classroom or in the library or even out on the lawn. Nice concept, but laptops are not quite as robust as they appear. Before you start a laptop program, think carefully about insurance and the repair cycle; if laptops are necessary each day, then you will need spare laptops as loaners.

All in all, I suggest using desktops instead of laptops and wired instead of wireless -- iff it fits your curriculum. Portability has its benefits, but it is pointless to pay for portability unless your curriculum is planned around it -- do not let your technology tail wag your educational dog.

{Someday, in a space far far away from Planet uSoft, computer users will carry portable profiles -- and they won't believe that primative users actually put heavy metal boxes on their shoulders to transport data.}

BTDTGTS (Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt)

Reply to
Bob Willard

Watch that they don't get nicked. I could mention at least one UK University where they expect to replace a Cisco 1200 per month due to students removing them.


Reply to
David Taylor

Well, I list some of the common problems that you might run into. I don't have a suggestion until I see the topology and the budget.

  1. Not enough AC adapters in the classroom. The local fire and safety committee has a thing about running power strips and extension cords around the rooms. Someone donated a pile of SGL Weber metal power strips, which are permanently installed on the larger tables, but that does nothing for the students at their isolated chairs. Asking the students to buy a spare 0 battery has proven to be a problem. Showing them how to use standby and hibernate has helped somewhat.
  2. The same inability to run power to the isolated student chairs also applies to CAT5. One trailer has CAT5 ethernet jacks in the floor. The plastic connectors lasted about 3 months before they were destroyed. Bad idea. Basically, you can't do wired ethernet anywhere, except in the labs which have benches.
  3. Managing network security has turned into a half time position. Only one local skool has some form of authentication to insure that only students and teachers use the network. The rest are a mixture of encrypted and unencrypted free-for-alls simply because there's no funding for a full time admin and abuse department. I know of one skool that has outsourced the function, but I have no idea how well it works. Enlisting student help has been spotty as by the time they learn the required tasks, they graduate. I've student admins ranging from totally impressive to the "The tinkerer from hell". I would look into a central managment system such as those offered by "wireless switch" vendors.
  4. Strangely, the traditional forms of bandwidth abuse, such as filesharing, have really not been a problem. Once warned, and threatened with being told to leave their laptops at home, most students comply. Spyware and worms are a problem because of the difficulty in identifying the infected laptop. Wireless client isolation is a must. In the US content filtering is required by law (CIPA) for skools that receiver federal funds.
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  5. The same problems with lack of AC power and broken RJ45 jacks appear in the outdoor and common areas, where students often want to use their laptops. Coverage of these outside areas with wireless and power was ignored by one skool and is currently a budgetary issue (i.e. why are we funding non-classroom related activities). Beware the politics involved. If applying for funding or grants, I suggest you stipulate that the entire skool will be covered by wireless or you will spend your days justifying why some obscure corner isn't covered.
  6. Public events in the evening has turned into a problem with some of the more vocal parents and civic leaders. They want to have connectivity to their PDA's while attending some event at the skool. Some skools pull the plug on wireless after hours and this causes problems.

Anyway, I would go wireless.

Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

Depends on the solution :)

Reply to
David Taylor

If you want a real disaster, get one of these "Smart Adapter AC" devices. Fellowes 99426 and others:

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only can you adjust it for the wrong value, but the replaceable power connectors allow you to reverse polarize it. Most laptops have reverse polarity protection but that usually results in a melted power connector and an expensive repair job. It's down to where replacing the power jack is niche business:
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Reply to
Jeff Liebermann

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