Are you using Netbooks? Have you explored the possiblities? Please share your experience.

I am wondering if anyone out there is using Netbooks such as the eePC, Aspire, Classmate etc. in your school. We are currently a Mac school and we are about to replace a mac lab. I was thinking that it might be a better idea to purchase a cart (or two) of netbooks. We are a 7-12 boys school, so the keyboards can't be too small.
Have you tried any of these out?
Are you using them now?
Can a computer running Linux work with a Mac server?
Any and all experiences would be appreciated.

I actually own an eePC and really do NOT like it. The keyboard sticks and is too small and I've had a lot of trouble getting on wireless networks at conferences.

Tags: carts, computer, netbooks

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I can't speak to the use of netbooks in schools, but I can say that my personal and professional life have been dramatically improved by my Acer Aspire netbook. I think they now go for $369 at Amazon: 1GB RAM, 160GB Hard Drive, Windows XP, and a computer the size of a hardback book with a battery life of 4.5 hours. Add my Verizon broadband mobile, and the computer is my constant companion and I use it live on the Internet in almost every setting where having a computer would help.
Good point - netbooks are definitely much more about cloud computing, and that's really a new phenomenon for all of us (young and old!)

Why not use the netbook as an opportunity to learn more about cloud computing? Most of us want to treat them like little machines that do the same things we've always done (hence the propensity towards the dinosaur XP). Let's explore some new territory!

M
I've just spent a very interesting week with 2 Intel Classmate Convertibles. They did everything I threw at them. They came preloaded with XP Home, but we wiped one and put Tablet XP on it (so I could add extra tablet software). The keyboard took some getting used to (I've go big hands - but the keys didn't stick), but for 1-1 in a middle school, it seemed ok. I've got notes on my blog of the full comparison. Intel is marketing these for grades K-9. I think that's a wise choice. For intensive use, I wouldn't adopt these for a high school. If you're combined 7-12, you'd definitely want a bigger keyboard. One idea - one cart of the smaller machines (for uses beyond traditional word processing - the Classmate Convertibles are tablet PCs, so they open the door a little wider than traditional netbooks) and one cart of something better for word processing and traditional use (or maybe a cart of Macbooks?). An XP machine can run on a Mac server, so network stuff wouldn't be an issue.
What about netbooks for 1 to 1 TEACHER, rather than student, deployment? Do they measure up?

Thanks,
Miguel Guhlin
Depending on what the teacher is accustomed to, I think they're doable...

Most still have fairly small screens, small keyboards, and no VGA output for projectors.
In place of a 5-year-old desktop, it might be useful.
In a situation where schools are using desktops in shared classrooms for Smartboards and want teachers to have laptops for email and non-classroom instructional use, totally viable.

When I demonstrated the Classmates at a recent faculty meeting, a couple of teachers offered to swap. They were small, less expensive, and faster than a much older laptop.

Would I mandate them as a replacement to other laptops - not yet. Too many teachers need a larger keyboard and would be strained by the smaller screen. Many of our teachers don't bother with home machines - use the school hardware as their only system. I see potential, though :-)
Interesting questions and comments! Yes I agree - many teachers seem to like the look, feel and portability of netbooks, but I think performance may be an issue over time. Even the slickest netbooks fare badly once you want to do your reports, listen to music, edit a video or two and work on a presentation.

I think a netbook should be exactly that - used for jumping on the net quickly.

M
We have 850 ASUS EeePCs and have not had significant trouble with hardware or networking... it's not about the device, it's about the network. You can read our IT guideline document at http://yourit.littletonpublicschools.net for more info. You might want to visit some of our schools that are using them in 5th grade to support writing. My blog is located at http://blogs.littletonpublicschools.net and check out the Writing with Laptops post on the left side. Then you might check out http://dragonpagoda.blogspot.com which is the best example of the EeePC classrooms in action.

-Dan Maas

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