Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Netbooks & Education

I just received my netbook in the mail this morning. It is an Asus Eee PC 1005HA-V 10.1-Inch Black. Wow . . . what a joy to work/play with this little gem today. I immediately switched out the 1 gig of memory for 2 gigs . . .then trashed the trial version of MS Office and some other unnecessary stuff. Before trashing Internet Explorer, I downloaded Google Chrome and Firefox. I then added OpenOffice, Audacity, Google Earth, SketchUp, Scratch, iTunes, Skype and Picasa. I noted that MS Moviemaker and Norton Antivirus were included with the original software . . . which was a plus.

I was pleasantly surprised how peppy the netbook is and how quickly it downloads photos, videos, and software files. Plugging it into a 20" flat screen monitor for work that might require more real estate worked without a hitch.

First Impression: It might be small, but this is no toy. It is a powerful device for getting serious work done. I was particularly impressed with how well Google Earth and SketchUp responded. Nifty!

Now, it could be argued that the netbooks are fine and dandy but that they don't have the necessary power for content creation such as higher end laptops or desktops . . . and that that is the direction schools should be headed, not in the direction of simply reading and writing text. For this viewpoint, read this:: The Netbook Fad in Education.

Here's a more balanced view: Netbooks or Notebooks?

Other reflections:

Learning in Hand - Netbooks
1 to 1 Netbook Trial
Clarence Fisher: OS and Education
Teaching with Netbooks
Richard Byrne: Netbook vs. Cheap Notebook Decision

It will be interesting to see what the verdict is on netbooks in education a few years down the road. Will they be durable enough to stand up to student use? Will they allow a new way of learning?

I invite you to add to the lists below. Who is going to start? Simply put your addition in comments and I'll add it here with your name.

What can netbooks do?

What can they not do?

Final question: Which list is going to be longer?


Sojo Varughese said...

Great to read your review! Wish I had one to make sense of how effective it can be.

Tracy said...

For the price these affordable computers are a excellent advance. I question there durability though especially with younger users who will not be as delicate with them.

Wesley Fryer said...

Christopher Dawson's analogy to cars is excellent in the ZDnet article you linked-- different tools for different purposes. There is room for both netbooks and more powerful laptops in schools-- but netbooks for everyone.

I agree with those who observe netbooks are more than sufficient for a large percentage of the computing work done in schools today. I also concur with Brett's view that computing tasks shouldn't be limited by "what we're doing now" or what we traditionally do in schools-- but I also see the cloud-based computing trend and recognize an amazing amount of content creation is now possible from a web browser as well as smaller mobile devices.

That said, I think netbooks are unquestionably the student computing device of choice for the next five years. After that, who knows? Schools are not brimming with money, particularly in our current recession. Given the option from a sustainability standpoint, Netbooks seem a clear choice relative to current pricepoints of Apple's least expensive laptops, even with educational discounts applied.

Will Apple announce a jumbo iTouch this fall and change the game again? It seems likely.


Character Education said...

Thats true, i really want to appreciate this effort, as we are going to improve every field of our lives, so this is the basic things, if it improves we can easily get our desired results, i think there should be some training programs for teachers and parents as well, thanks for giving us this chance to share our ideas with you.