Sustainability in education – love the devices you have!


The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012

There is always a new and shiny device, isn’t there?


There have been two occasions during the last days that made my think about sustainability, especially in education. The first one was a call from a sales manager employed by major IWB – brand. He tried to persuade me that we get one of their up-to-date-top-of-everything-products, but he wants to get it placed in the room he wanted. The problem is: We already have an IWB there. So I offered another room that isn’t that well equipped – but he wasn’t pleased with that. His recommendation was that his company will replace the “old” and soon “out-of-date” product rather than change the room I offered.

I must admit that I didn’t expect that and although I can understand that there is rough competition in the ICT – market I have other liabilities too. We are satisfied with the other vendor but I also like to offer our students the possibility to experience as many different devices as they can to prepare them for school. On the other hand I can’t see the point to throw out a working IWB.

The second experience is related to our two ActivSlates, both already a few years old. We get them from Promethean for our university and they have been used for demonstration already – which doesn’t reduce it’s worth for us. But after a few month of use there came the moment when we need to recharge them and recognized two thing: We don’t have a charging adapter for them and you can’t purchase them for a reasonable price in Germany anymore. So we could throw them away – or find a solution. I persuaded our technician and we opened both of them (one ActivSlate 50 and an one ActivSlateXR) – and worked out a way to get them charged again!

If somebody else has the same problem, I’d like to share our experience:

  • Charging our ActiveSlate 50 over USB -cable didn’t work and we don’t had an charging adapter for the other connector. But you can easily charge it with every power supply that gives you 5 V and 0,4 A. If you are not sure, the inner pin is the plus pole.
  • Charging our ActivSlate XR wasn’t possible because the connector is unique and shipping a cable from the UK or the US makes no sense. So we found out the polarity of the 15 pin-connector that are necessary for starting the charging process and bypassed them with a standard connector. So at the end we could charge both devices with the same cheap power supply (14 Euro).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a little slide-show with pictures my colleague made (thanks to Göran Tronicke, without his help this slate would have soon ended proving the acceleration of free fall) – if you have detailed questions don’t hesitate to contact me.

Of course, at the end of the day you can ask: was it worth all the time to “repair” them, almost hacking these devices? I’m totally convinced it was. We “rescued” two working devices and I had the possibility to learn about the inside of a tablet.  And the feeling to see them charging and working after it is priceless. We choose not the easy way to purchase a new device – and it was a good decision.

After these two happenings in a short time I remembered a quote from the MirandaNet unconference in Prague, where Rachel Jones pointed out: love the devices you have. There’s nothing to add.

Getting the stuff to repair it: 15 Euro. See it working again: priceless.

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