Is wireless computing in the classroom necessary? If schools truly want to prepare students for the future, the answer is yes, according to Brian Monette, marketing director for Dell Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

The challenge for school boards these days, Monette says, is to update their curricula

to adapt to technological and educational advancements.

“”Educators understand the benefits of technology in the classroom but they seem to struggle on the actual usage,”” he says. “”That will come from a change occurring in a school’s curriculum, and as that evolves, technology.””

Dell recently launched a series of its TrueMobile Wireless Solutions for the K-12 education market, including its Latitude line of notebooks, LCD projectors, and portable notebook carts (which hold 12 to 26 notebooks at one time and can be wheeled about an institution, all connected wirelessly).

“”This is a cost-effective way to introduce portability into the classroom,”” he says. “”I challenge you to quote an engineering company to determine the cost of setting up and maintaining a computer lab (in a school) and it won’t come remotely close to us.””

In addition to notebooks, Dell’s TrueMobile effort also includes wireless PC cards, access points, and base stations.

Bear Creek Secondary School in Barrie, Ont., purchased a Dell 16 Notebook Cart and 16 Latitude C600 notebooks equipped with internal wireless modem cards and a printer. Bear Creek’s information administrator Dale Beech says the school’s 1,500 students use the mobile lab “”as a part of the curriculum intensely.””

“”It’s used by every department and every student in the school,”” he says. “”It brings the technology to the students rather than having to go through the inconvenience of moving an entire class of kids from one room to another.””

Beech says Bear Creek is a relatively new school and the first in the Simcoe County District School Board (and possibly the province) to adopt the mobile lab solution.

“”It’s been totally worthwhile,”” he says. “”There are issues with establishing a lab. First you have to consider the fact that some of the older schools simply don’t have the wiring to house a lab.””

Beech adds Bear Creek is in the process of installing Dell’s wireless access points throughout the two-storey building, allowing the students to roam freely with the laptops.

Julie Kaufman, research manager, skills development for IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, says the K-12 education market is a testing ground of sorts for wireless devices. She says there hasn’t been much investment insofar as mobile computing is concerned in the K-12 space. However, she anticipates a change in that metric.

“”There are academics experimenting with that approach,”” she says. “”Dell certainly sees this as a realistic and strategic option for schools . . . growth for overall technology in the K-12 space is flat to negative depending on what market we’re talking about.

“”I believe we’ll see growth in

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