Scotland County Schools - an NComputing Customer Profile

Scotland County Schools Technical and Media Director discusses why his district deployed desktop virtualization and NComputing.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

From time to time, I like to speak with someone who is actually using a product rather than just listening to the supplier. This time, I communicated with Rick DeLaunay, Director of Technology and Media for Scotland County Schools in North Carolina.

Please introduce yourself and your company.

I am Rick DeLaunay, and I am the proud Director of Technology and media for Scotland County Schools in North Carolina. Mostly rural, Scotland County is one of the smallest counties in the state and also one of the poorest in the nation. There are 14 public schools within the county serving 6,100 students.

What were you doing that needed this type of technology?

We are an extremely budget-strapped county. We needed to figure out a way to do more with less so we set out to find an alternative compute solution to the "typical" laptop one-to-one programs out there. Not too long ago, the state of North Carolina set an ambitious goal for us to achieve one-to-one computer access for all its K-12 students and also making all assessment testing available online.

For several of the school districts, the norm to achieve this was by purchasing laptops. If I had endless pockets, I would have loved to go with new laptops. But because of the huge upfront cost, and then upkeep — such as replacing batteries, replacing units that are lost or stolen and general upkeep — laptops just weren't a viable option for us.

What products did you consider before making a selection?

Prior to selecting NComputing's desktop virtualization solutions, we also evaluated Citrix and VMware.

Why did you select this product?

In searching for a viable alternative to a laptop approach that was less costly, but compute rich, I stumbled upon NComputing and learned more about its desktop virtualization technology. I quickly realized this was the answer to accomplishing the objectives of our one-to-one computing and online assessment testing initiative. NComputing employs thin client technology to enable virtualized desktops. However, unlike traditional thin client technology, NComputing delivers better user performance at a lower cost.

With NComputing, schools can have one-to-one computer access at a very reasonable cost, and when it's time for a tech refresh, the costs are minimal compared to any other solution. This should be the only way it's done. And not to mention, NComputing's ease of deployment is was extremely simple and seamless.

As a pilot project, we deployed NComputing X550 units at Covington Street Elementary in Laurinburg. The X-series taps the unused capacity of a PC or server so that users can simultaneously share a single computer. With the X550s, we can run five Windows workstations off a single server.

Students have his/her own ID and password, and their own specified applications, files and settings. It's like their own computer each time they use it. They love it! Teachers and students can choose from a number of applications for independent, group learning or tests.

This is one-to-one computing for literally pennies on the dollar.

What tangible benefits have you gotten through the use of this product?

With the success at Covington Street Elementary, we've rolled out NComputing to every school in the district for a total of 1,400 seats. Soon Covington Street Elementary will become the first virtualized one-to-one elementary school in North Carolina.

With the implementation of NComputing, we've seen increased student achievement and behavior. In district classrooms with a Windows terminal for every student, teachers have reported dramatic changes. During computer time, students are able to work at their own pace, solving that once never-ending problem of trying to teach children that are on different paths of a learning curve. With the help of NComputing, the result is more individualized learning and more focused, interested students.

According to the principal and teachers at Covington Street Elementary, the student's math scores, their problem solving skills and how they attack problems are so different from other classrooms, and they believe it's because of their technology partner, NComputing. Student engagement went straight up. Discipline problems went straight down. Achievement has been amazing.

In terms of a cost savings, the initial cost is 40 percent cheaper than rolling out laptops, and the biggest benefit will be when fresh time comes in three years. Then I will see a 90 percent savings, which is unbelievable. Right now, I'm providing one-to-one access for less than half the cost of a desktop computer. Additionally, I'm cutting down on heat and power, which is ultimately, saving more.

We save half a million dollars every four years and that's not counting replacing the batteries, power supplies, and lost and stolen devices we would have otherwise have had to do. And my staff doesn't have to repair 1,800 individual computers. It's a win-win.

What advice would you offer others facing similar circumstances?

Before you make a decision, you need to look at NComputing and its desktop virtualization solutions. (If you're interested a video about NComputing's products can be found here.)

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