Mobile Computer Labs
Mobile computer labs let organizations bring Internet access and computers to specific locations in a community. For example, Bristol’s Lawrence Memorial Library brings theirs to senior lunches, Jay and Westfield use theirs at Community Center events.
Mobile labs are usually outfitted with laptop, tablet (e.g. iPad) or netbook computers. Click here for longer descriptions of each piece of equipment.
To make the computers mobile, and to store and charge them, there are many different storage carts available to purchase. Units are designed to store conventional laptops, iPads or netbooks, but not all three in the same cart. Carts may store as little as 6 or as many as 40 devices.
The places where mobile labs can be used are essentially anywhere with a high speed Internet connection and wireless router to create a hotspot or anywhere in a wireless Internet zone. The necessary speeds will vary depending on number of machines connected and the Internet applications you are using. For example, concurrent downloads of video will require a fast connection and a robust router for acceptable performance while learning the basics of Internet searches will not need as fast a speed.
Finally, one of the most important things to plan ahead for is device maintenance and management, including software updates. For examples of technology maintenance plans, some of the best resources are for public libraries and schools. Here is one write up from an educators’ blog on iPads, and another from a school systems administrator. Examples of library resources can be found in the public library section of this toolkit. Check online and with your mobile lab’s equipment supplier for the most current best practices.