Minnesota District Quadruples Computers On a Budget

Thin is in. The Minnetonka Public School District has quadrupled the number of classroom computers using virtual desktops from Wyse Technology. The combination of thin clients and virtualization has maximized the school's technology budget, allowing the district to put in four times as many thin clients as PCs. Currently, more than 600 Wyse V10L devices are being used in the district's six elementary schools.

"We're proud of the way that we've delivered our students and taxpayers an astonishingly high return on their investment in education. We couldn’t have done it without Wyse," said Julie Carter, Executive Director of Technology, Minnetonka Public School District. "Thin clients offered greater ease of implementation, management and maintenance compared to any desktop computers. Best of all, we could afford to put many more thin clients in classrooms for the same amount of money."

According to National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Dept of Education, and Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnetonka Public School District is ranked as No. 8 out of 167 school districts across the state.

More computers in the classrooms help teachers to incorporate more hands-on project-based instruction. In the classrooms, students use Wyse thin clients for graphic-rich programs that help with math and reading, such as Tumblebooks, an online book reader. They also view streaming instructional videos and specific topics from Discovery Education. Most of these are Web-based educational programs for which the district has purchased a license, but students also use standard productivity software such as Microsoft Office. Other educational software and applications in use are: Audacity, Google Earth, Type to Learn, Inspiration, and EM Games.

An added benefit of replacing PCs with thin clients is that ongoing maintenance costs are kept low, allowing for future gains in the district's technology investment. "In our first full year with thin clients, we had a failure rate of less than 1%," according to Robert Wakefield, Network Security Specialist, Minnetonka Public School District. "In contrast, approximately 12% of our PCs break in a typical year. The PCs have to be physically removed from the classroom and brought in for repair. In contrast, our thin clients are centrally managed so that troubleshooting and repair occurs from the data center, minimizing downtime and staff resources."

Because thin clients last longer than PCs, the district will continue to reap cost savings over the course of the lifespan of each thin client device. "We don’t get more than four to five years' work out of a PC," added Wakefield. "But a thin client device is expected to last for ten years. If so, for every thin client we have in a classroom over a ten-year period, we save up to 90% of the hardware and set-up costs we'd be paying if we had a PC instead of a thin client." The district estimates that they could avoid two cycles of buying and setting up PCs where thin clients are being used.