Know-How: Wire Management

Internet connections in classrooms have become commonplace — in 2002, 92 percent of the nation's classrooms had Internet connections.

For schools, making sure those connections work means managing miles of wires. The wires must serve their primary purpose — transporting power and data to computers — yet not detract from school safety or aesthetics.

For most school buildings, that means running wires through hallways and into classrooms as unobtrusively as possible. A guide from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, “Impact of Technology on School Facility Design,” gives tips on handling wires in the classroom.

If possible, computer stations should be positioned close to a wall. The desks that hold the computers can be outfitted to keep wires out of sight and out of tripping range.

“Modern furniture and casework can be specified or designed to provide built-in, concealed wiring paths and raceways,” the guide says.

When running wires behind walls is not feasible, power poles and raceways can be used, but those solutions are not considered ideal. Poles and raceways can be damaged easily and lead to electrical hazards. Poles also can hinder the view between teacher and students.

“Power poles and surface-mounted raceway … should only be considered in remodeling projects where routing of wiring in inaccessible existing walls is cost prohibitive,” the guide says.

Schools with an eye toward future growth can save money by installing the infrastructure and equipment that will be needed as enrollment grows or technology use intensifies.

“In order to reduce the cost of future installation, limit the amount of exposed future wiring, and reduce the time needed to install future workstations yet retain low initial costs for wiring and cabling, a prudent school system will install empty power and network boxes with conduit during the initial installation,” says the guide.

NOTABLE

99

Percentage of public schools with access to the Internet in 2002.

92

Percentage of instructional rooms in public schools with access to the Internet in 2002.

94

Percentage of schools that had broadband connections to the Internet in 2002.

23

Percentage of schools that used any type of wireless Internet connections in 2002.

4.8

Number of public school students per instructional computer with Internet access, 2002.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, “Internet Access in U.S. Public Schools and Classrooms, 1994-2002.”

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