Computer Lab becomes SMARTdesks Collaborative Learning Classroom at Maryland Elementary School

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Eastern Maryland Elementary School just installed their state of the art learning lab

I think we have laid the ground work for other schools

Elementary students greeted the SMARTdesks installation crew with excited exclamations: “Wow—here comes our new computer lab!” The principal and technology coach at this Eastern Maryland Elementary School went to great lengths to make their new classroom state-of-the-art. The principal described the process “We had initial discussions with people from the county. Their thoughts were, rather than arranging the students going down the middle for collaboration, to do everything on the sides with the students facing the walls. That would be the easy thing to do, because of routing power and data, but it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. That’s not what we want.”

The technology coach did the research and found SMARTdesks online. After a visit to the SMARTdesks showroom in Linthicum, Maryland, she discovered the SMARTdesks FFIT Computer Floor and the new iGroup Collaboration Classroom Tables. The FFIT Computer Floor is a cableway for power and data that appears on the surface to be beautiful commercial grade carpet. Underneath, power and data cables are routed to twenty-four stations, right in the middle of the room where the students are. A pleasant, quiet environment, easy to clean and the harness of cable completely under the floor.

The SMARTdesks iGroup Collaboration Tables are set in triangle shapes, allowing students to use their technology, see the SMARTboard, and work productively with each other. The technology coach describes that before, all she had to work with was Netbooks and laptop carts. The drawback was the non-productive time of loading and unloading the carts, then facing possible issues with getting the routers to work. Now they have one place they can go to work on a project and everything works.

The iGroup tables will host Windows 8 desktops with large touchscreen monitors and small towers. They iGroup Classroom Tables are also outfitted with SMARTdesks iDrawers to safely secure Netbooks and keep them powered with both internal 110VAC power and USB power. Data cables may also be routed to the iDrawer and support any device that uses the RJ45 cat6 connections. The iGroup Collaboration Tables are designed with height adjustable legs so their entire population from pre-K thru third grade can be accommodated.

The principal comments, “I think we’ve laid the ground work for other schools. When you compare this to the laptop carts, this space has a whole new atmosphere. I would hope that our kids would feel a change, coming into a room like this, and that they would feel more grown-up and professional— a far different experience than ‘let’s pull out some notebooks and run some wires.’” She also commented that they are also preparing for the future because Maryland is looking into doing their State Testing online, and they need a space for that. Another benefit of the FFIT Floor is that it can be moved to another room or building, so as the needs of the school change, they have future-proofed their investment.

The project itself was a collaboration between the educators, the administration, and the SMARTdesks Design Team. SMARTdesks offers a completely engineered solution, including the space planning and the wiring plan for the space. The FFIT Floor was a great convenience for the school because the entire district has only one electrician. When the FFIT Floor was installed, the electrician only had to tie the whip into the service panel. All of the UL Approved power outlets were installed by the SMARTdesks installers at a budget price.

For more information about design for collaborative learning, iGroup Collaboration Tables, and FFIT Computer Floor, contact SMARTdesks at Smartdesks.com

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Jeff Korber
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