Overcoming the 1:1 Laptop Charger Shortage: A Success Story | ISTE

by Thomas Ruggiero on December 29, 2021

The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by PoE Texas. 

Students and teachers have become reliant on the flexibility and power of laptops and tablets as education tools.  On the other hand, classrooms are not ready for the new power and data load all these new laptops have created.

Many classrooms typically do not have enough outlets to safely and reliably get power to desks, and, to compound the issue, IT departments at schools are scrambling to replace chronically missing laptop chargers.  To make matters worse, teachers struggle with the unreliability of congested Wi-Fi networks.

Classroom infrastructure is not ready for these new devices, and the time and cost required to fix these issues feels a long way from coming.

Fortunately, two new technology standards offer a safe and relatively inexpensive solution to these problems. Google, Apple, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo and almost every other device manufacturer has adopted USB-C ports, which take power and data on a common cable.

The only limitation with the USB-C standard is a maximum cable length of 15 feet, which will not work in classrooms. The new Power over Ethernet standard solves that limitation by delivering safe – so safe you can touch bare wires – power as well as data over one ethernet cable, just like the cable connected to your computer. 

The technology experts at PoE Texas have created a converter using these industry standards to allow schools to retrofit a classroom with reliable wired ethernet data and safe-to-touch power to each laptop or device. No licensed electricians, outlets or extended classroom closures are necessary.  In a matter of days, IT technicians can provide power and data to each laptop in the classroom.  Best of all, the expense can be paid using federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.

The case study

Vera Hirsh, head of school at the Academy for International Education in Miami-Dade, Florida, knew her school needed a different solution for their online testing classrooms.

“When we decided to have students use dedicated laptops for our school’s standardized testing this year, we realized we had a real infrastructure challenge ahead of us,” she said. “In order to have a reliable test environment, we knew we needed classrooms fitted out with power and wired data. But doing it with traditional wires and AC power just won’t work at such a large scale.”

The team at PoE Texas partnered with PoE switch industry experts at Cisco to outfit eight classrooms over several weeks at AIE with new IEEE 802.3bt PoE switches and the PoE to USB-C converters. The team completed the AIE testing rooms just in time for the spring testing. 

“They helped show us how to wire ethernet cables to each desk and connect USB-C laptops without any risk of electrocution and with wired data,” Hirsh said. “These new devices are helping us safely and efficiently administer our standardized testing this year.”

You can see the full case study at AIE on YouTube.

Learn more

Tyler Andrews leads PoE Texas and makes technology accessible to facility owners with his unique mix of technical expertise, construction experience and project management knowledge. He speaks and trains about his project management experience and the importance of Power Over Ethernet in the new intelligent building.

This content was originally published here.

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