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Wireless Tablet PCs Increase Collaborative Learning for Students

CDW-G Advises School Districts About Best Practices in Tablet PCs

Focused on equipping its students to succeed in higher education, in 1997, Hinsdale Township 86 Assistant Superintendent Dr. James R. Polzin led a district team in developing a mobile educational computing strategy. This vision focused on improved interaction between teachers and students, catering to multiple learning styles, in addition to enhancing the delivery and comprehension of increasingly complicated ideas. Working within the constraints of budget and course content requirements, Dr. Polzin sought to drive technology solutions that were affordable and compliant with requirements at the local, state and Federal levels.

As the technology vision evolved at Hinsdale, a suburb of Chicago, it became increasingly clear that some students responded to classroom technology differently than others. While already outgoing and technology-savvy students readily utilized the IT assets to improve participation and comprehension, less comfortable students often hid behind their computer screens, using desktop PCs as barriers to interaction rather than as tools for collaboration. “For many students, desktops were the perfect hiding place,” says Dr. Polzin. “At times we were losing the attention and participation of our students.” The net result was an uneven classroom experience for students experiencing the same curriculum.

Looking to continue to push for improved classroom collaboration, Dr. Polzin and the Hinsdale Technology Team researched and discussed alternatives to the traditional desktop classroom environment for the next element of technology advancements in the district. Working with CDWG, a leading provider of solutions to educational institutions, Hinsdale assessed the transition to wireless Tablet PCs to improve classroom collaboration and learning.

“Hinsdale was committed to equipping its students with the best technology for the classroom. After looking at the district’s specific needs and computing environment, we concurred with Hinsdale that Tablet PCs would create an interactive atmosphere between teachers and students, and facilitate a learning environment for all students,” said Chris Rother, CDW-G Vice President of Education. “Tablets allow teachers and students to do a series of activities they weren’t able to do before?and in a much more collaborative setting.”

The infrastructure at the Township’s two high schools had been rebuilt to support access to personal computers and handheld computing devices for approximately 5,000 students, faculty and staff. The backbone of the multi-facility system is a Novell Netware 6 clustered environment, using Storage Area Networks (SAN) and Gigabyte Fiber. Providing essentially an enterprise-level IT setting, there are over 1,400 PCs, hundreds of Palm handheld devices and more then 4500 users. Several miles of cable, dozens of hubs and numerous networking devices link all the machines together. All District 86 students have accounts on the network, along with GroupWise 6 email accounts, and nearly 100 software packages available for their use.

“We relied heavily on CDW-G to both understand the requirements of the district ? both technical and financial ? and to support a technology solution that met all of those requirements,” said Dr. Polzin.

For more information contact CDW-G at 800.767.4239 or visit