Friday, November 20, 2009

Laptops Donated

St. John's Hospital donated 40 Dell Latitude D600 laptops to my classroom at the end of last week.  The laptops all have 1.8 ghz processors and 1Gb of RAM - better specs than all but two of the existing classroom computers.  Most of the laptops have 60 Gb hard drives (we stumbled upon one so far that has a 75 Gb hard drive).  Approximately 30 of the laptops appear to be in a decent quality - ready to install an operating system and the necessary software.  Of the other ten, three have torn up hinges, and another one has a bad lcd panel.  I hope to use those four as a salvage to end up with at least five total good laptops out of that stack.

Since the laptops came from the medical field, their hard drives had to be erased before I received them.  I installed Windows on one one laptop, Plainsman01, over the weekend, and then set it up with Microsoft Office, the Adobe Web Premium suite, the Adobe Design suite, Skype, AIM, Firefox, and a few other necessities, including a second Gb of RAM from one of the battered laptops.  The laptops do not have cd-roms, but instead have a second battery.  I took the laptop to the conference that I attended on Tuesday, and the battery life appears to be approximately 7 hours.  I set up a second laptop, Plainsman02, on Tuesday evening with Windows and Microsoft Office, and fine-tuned which drivers are necessary for installation and placed them on a flash drive.  On Thursday evening, two yearbook seniors stayed after school for two hours and started the installation process on eight more laptops.  Plainsman03 was set up with Windows, Microsoft Office, the Adobe Design suite, Firefox, and we installed a second Gb of RAM in it as well - it will be used by the yearbook Editor in Chief for electronic submissions to the publisher.  The other seven laptops were set up with Windows, Microsoft Office, and Firefox.  Taking about an hour for supper, I worked on the installations until about 12:30 a.m.  I know it's a little obsessive, but I wanted to have nine of the laptops ready for the B1 English class to use so they could all blog during the same time today.  All went well this morning . . . nine students of the 23 in the class used laptops and were excited to use them.

I will have yearbook students and whoever else would like to help out with installations work on the remaining 20-25 laptops.  Since I have enough computers functioning in the classroom now, I can take my time setting up the rest of the laptops.

After I get the total number of functional laptops determined, I need to make a decision about the desktop computers in the classroom.  Do I replace them with the laptops, or do they still have a purpose?  I also need to propose a new classroom setup to the administration.  I would like to have back-to-back counters installed in two rows where my existing rows of tables are sitting.  I would like the counters to be "breakfast bar" height and have bar stools for seats.  I would like to give the students the opportunity to sit or stand as they prefer.  The counters, having backs on them, will adequately divide the students who are sitting across from each other and will also provide extra tabletop space of the students' books, the laptop, and notebooks, etc.

The one thing that I do need to work out in the next couple of weeks is which breakers control my classroom outlets, what else is on them, and how much more amperage they can safely manage.  I need to find a place to store the laptops so they can charge each evening.  I would like to slightly remodel the cabinets in my office for the task, but will have to have electricity run to them in order for that to happen.  I may just have to get five power strips and find a safe way to stack the laptops so they can charge overnight.

All in all, I am excited about the donations and can already foresee the possible uses of the laptops on a daily basis.  Thank you to all the IT staff at St. John's Hospital for the donation, and thank you to Mollie, my wife, for telling me about the laptops becoming available and making the contact connection between me the IT staff at St. John's.