I am looking for thoughts on Netbooks, mini laptops. Our school is thinking of going with these next year but I am wondering how they work with elementary age students? Are the netbooks too small for them to use well? I am open to all thoughts/opinions!

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We're getting netbooks next year for our 6-8th graders. I got a sample unit from Acer, on a 30 day trial, and have been using it, as well as having students use it. The response has been great. I think it will work well in the younger grades as well, because the smaller keyboards are easier for smaller hands. We are getting them for two main reasons. The cost is about 3 to 1 as compared to the desktops we buy. So instead of have 4 desktops per classroom, we can have 12 netbooks. They are super portable. They can also be shared among grade level teachers. In our school, we will be installing anti-theft software that reports an IP address and takes a picture if the missing netbook if it tries to get online. In my opinion, they are the best new technology for education.

Jeff, are you going to pilot any other companies? Also, how responsive was Acer to the pilot idea. My school has discussed this option but haven't got as far as you.
Hi Colleen,

These little devices are fascinating aren't they? At the moment, I'm watching the developments in this technology with real interest and have a few observations for teachers:

1. Cost is generally appealing, although prices (at least in Australia) are going up. As far as I'm concerned, once you're paying upwards of AUD$600, you're paying too much. Might as well buy full-sized laptops then.
2. OS is a big issue IMO. It's great that most netbooks run XP pretty well, although it would be interesting to hear from more teachers using one or more of the distros of Linux that have been optimized for netbook use. I think that when booting up takes longer than 2 minutes or so and most of the RAM is clogged up with anti-virus and anti-malware software, why not look at Linux? After all, you're most likely to be using them for internet access.
3. I think the netbook issue of where and why to deploy them very much depends on what sorts of technology are already available in the school concerned. Where the school is already well resourced with new technology and different platforms (eg PC and mac labs or trolleys) then adding some netbooks to the mix is a great idea. However, in schools where the technology is old and in need of urgent upgrading, I think it's unwise to put most of your eggs in the netbook basket.

Hope this helps - let me know how you go,




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