Upgrading Computer Labs to Meet Demands of Curriculum and Online Testing
About Kershaw County School District
Kershaw County School District is home to almost 10,500 students and over 1,300 employees, with three high schools, four middle schools, 11 elementary schools, one career center, one alternative school, and one adult education program. The District’s mission is to provide a positive, safe, and rigorous learning environment in which a highly motivated and nurturing staff prepares students for success.
Need for updated computer labs leads to virtual desktop solution
In 2013, the Kershaw County School District (KCSD) needed to upgrade computer labs in all of its middle schools. The computers were in excess of seven years old, running Windows XP and had very little RAM, limiting the students from doing all of the things they needed as part of their coursework. The outdated computers were not suitable for online testing either, hindering the district’s ability to keep up with state testing requirements.
With a limited budget, KCSD set out to analyze available options that provided the hardware and software requirements to support online testing and run specialized reading and math applications for students. The district researched volume discounts on computers and also spoke with other school districts about their use of VMware, but when they came across NComputing’s virtual desktop solution they realized it was positioned to be the best fit.
“NComputing offered the most cost effective solution for KCSD,” said Bill Oden, Senior Systems Specialist for Kershaw County School District.” The virtual desktop client devices can be connected to a monitor, keyboard, mouse, microphone, speakers, network cable and two other USB devices, and the virtualization software can be run on a server allowing the district to implement a better solution than individual computers.”
The district did a trial of 18 NComputing L300 virtual desktop client devices and was pleased that the solution provided the same user experience of a desktop computer without the added hardware and power consumption. KCSD also appreciated that the user experience could be customized for each device or the same setup used for all as in a lab setting.
After its evaluation, KCSD moved forward with purchasing 350 NComputing L300 virtual desktop client devices for computer labs in its middle schools and one media center and experienced an immediate savings of $160,650 in hardware costs, along with continued savings in power consumption and cooling costs. The district had no problem with the implementation of the devices and set up two servers for every 90 desktops, creating a much more manageable solution than it had previously.
“NComputing has made it much easier for our team to support computers in the labs and media center,” said Oden. “Even though the servers are at the school, they can be accessed from anywhere in the district, saving us time and resources in troubleshooting issues, and streamlining the process for software installations and updates since everything can be done at the server instead of machine to machine.”
The implementation of NComputing resulted in faster computers that are far more reliable than ever before, both in terms of performance and Internet connectivity, which are critical for online testing. At the same time, students and teachers have not had to change the way they interact with the computers, making the transition to the thin clients seamless to them.
With the success of NComputing in its computer labs and media center, KCSD has received requests from teachers to implement the virtual desktop client devices in classrooms. The district also plans to expand the solution to its other schools.