Magazine article Technology & Learning

PC Virtualization Systems Give More Bang for the Buck

Magazine article Technology & Learning

PC Virtualization Systems Give More Bang for the Buck

Article excerpt

It used to be a challenge keeping groups of students at Danville (IL) High School focused on interactive-video lessons as they were clumped around the library computers. But thanks to virtualization, students simply don their own headphones, watch their individual monitors, and answer questions on their own keyboards.

"Instead of all watching at a distance, they are each in their own little sensory world," says librarian Kurt Wilier. "There's much less distraction and much less downtime."

The Danville students are using a Userful Multiplier virtualization system, which subdivides a PC hard drive, providing individual work spaces for up to eight students when several monitors and keyboards are plugged into the same computer. The catch: Each monitor must be within 15 feet of the PC to maintain signal strength. Also, the systems run only on Linux (any Linux).

The library's eight virtualization systems (six are currently running Linux, and two are running Windows) maximize its technological capabilities from fiscal, spatial, and networking perspectives. Instead of 20 computers, the library now has the equivalent of 60. And the students can use them for Internet research, reports, presentations, database queries, and even basic photo imaging, says Willer.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Thanks to the Multipliers, the library can handle as many as four classes simultaneously, three in labs and one at worktables, according to Willer.

Christel Powell, manager of information systems for the Danville school district, found out about the PC virtualization systems from Edmonton, Canada-based Omni Technology Solutions at a trade show in 2006 and quickly agreed to give them a try. …

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