Please note: I am no longer actively posting to this blog. My blog has moved to http://jimklein.org
Jim Klein : Home Page > Green Computing
When most technologists think of "green computing", they tend to gravitate toward the obvious: lower power devices, auto shutoff tools, and less polluting material construction. These are all great when considering new purchases, but can account for only a fraction of the environmental and capital savings of equipment re-use.
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator which is intended to assist users with quantifying the benefits of environmentally sound management of electronic equipment. According to this tool, re-using just one computer and monitor saves:
This is roughly the equivalent of taking ½ of a car off the road and saving 68% of one US household's allotment of electricity for a year. These numbers are significant and certainly worthy of consideration.
So then the question is: how do we in K12 leverage computer re-use strategically and effectively to both increase student technology access and reduce our footprint on the environment? To answer this question, a realistic analysis of computer use in K12 schools and districts is required, and will undoubtedly reveal obvious opportunities.
First, consider that the vast majority of computer use requires very little processing power. More and more applications in use in educational environments are web based, with Web 2.0 applications bringing new opportunities every day. As for those individual desktop applications, most spend the majority of their time waiting for the user to do something, rather than the computer actually processing. Certainly this does not apply in every case. There will be instances when a high powered machine may be required. But these machines could easily be strategically distributed among highly capable, lower powered machines.
With these facts in mind, it becomes quite easy to conclude that operating systems are the primary driver of continually escalating system requirements, which lead to ever more rapid and premature (and unnecessary, in our opinion) equipment retirement. As such, the logical conclusion is to utilize operating systems which are capable of supporting the same cutting edge software, with lower system requirements. In other words, leveraging lightweight open-source applications and Linux on desktops and thin clients.
Everyone benefits from computer reuse via an open source approach, as it gives greater access to technology in the classroom. Students not only have access to more physical machines, but also gain access to a wider variety of applications on a more reliable operating system. Fewer physical requirements lead to increased performance and extended computer life. Once machines reach a maturity beyond individual usability, they can still find new life as a thin-clients.
The impact of this approach on the education and the environment is significant. Student to computer ratios drop, and schools gain increased flexibility with technology allocation. Students gain access to a greater number of applications and reliable computing resources. Teachers are empowered to implement broader technology driven lessons as a result of increased technology access. Equipment usable life is extended, driving down the cost of technology integration and reducing our impact on the environment.
Click the links below or to the right under "Wiki Pages" for further information.
jklein, 08/20/08 05:47 (GMT)Add a new page under this one