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    dgsmith's Avatar
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    eeePC instead of an Alphasmart?

    We are keen on pursuading our SEN department to invest in eeePCs instead of alphasmarts, however they are concerned there is "too much" information or things that can be fiddled with for the kids (or too many complexities).

    Can the eeePC be "dumbed down" so that is acts just like a word processor without everything else, so the whole thing is locked down and there is nothing else which can get in the way? Considering the alphasmarts cost £200 and the basic eeePC is the same price (bigger screen and better compatibility), it seems logical, but our SEN department don't like the idea of it doing "more"..

    Anyone else considered or actually gone down this route?

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    I personally don't have any say in whether eeepc's are used instead of alphasmarts but the people I have spoken to in schools are very keen on it.

    The ones we used had linux so if there was any tinkering done a quick reset would be all that was needed. As they have open office on them your wordprocessing needs are sorted.

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    We have started using netbooks

    I spoke to my Learning Support Co-ordinator in September and suggested she move over to netbooks. We have gond for Samsung NC10s but the market is now huge and you can choose from dozens. I have just blogged about 8 netbooks in the 10 inch category which you may want to look at here

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    PEO
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    only problem with eeePC is the screen size imo... some SEN kids do have difficulty with sight, coordination etc. Not to sure it would work out succesfully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PEO View Post
    only problem with eeePC is the screen size imo... some SEN kids do have difficulty with sight, coordination etc. Not to sure it would work out succesfully.
    The alphasmarts I've seen and used only have a few lines of text maybe 8 inches long, an eeepc certainly improves on the screensize.

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    PEO
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    never used alphasmarts, from what you describe their, I would not recomend either on this occasion.

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    I would second teddybear's suggestion on using the Linux version not only for the very useful instant restore feature. The basic default interface is very "dumbed down" as it is and can be further customised to include as much or as little as you want.

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    I suppose it would depend on what you wanted from teh unit...

    AlphaSmarts serve a single purpose - to get text into a computer in the easiest way possible. They just act as a keyboard buffer so no software is needed on the PC and the batteries last for days AFAIK. Easy-peesy!

    EeePCs will allow the department more flexibility (allowing access to VLEs and direct access to printers) but they have their limitations - more complicated and shorter battery lifes.

    Personally, I would probably go for a Linux-variant of the Acer Aspire ONE and a USB stick to keep things as simple and as cheap as possible, whilst keeping the flexibility. I wouldn't go for an EeePC 701 because of the small screen and tiny keys and a 901 is too expensive IMHO.

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    Not quite what you are after, but if you are getting the Windows flavour you could install something like KidsMenu (maybe only leave the Word Processor in the interface). I guess that you could also put the WP as (the only?) item in the "Start Up" folder as well, or knock something up along the same lines - maybe a brightly-coloured "web page" that starts with the OS?

    I guess that you could probably do something similar for the Linux version (or search for a pre-made one!) but that's not something I'd know about.

    That said, the Alphasmarts are very robust and far less likely to suffer from theft - not to mention attempts to play games/load software etc etc.

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    Reason this has come about it because the kids want to print work from the alphasmarts, and we can't find an appropriate printer (there used to be one but we can't remember when or even what kind it was), and there is little or no help to advise on this.

    Not only that, but the screen size only means thet can get 3 or 4 lines!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgsmith View Post
    Reason this has come about it because the kids want to print work from the alphasmarts, and we can't find an appropriate printer (there used to be one but we can't remember when or even what kind it was), and there is little or no help to advise on this.
    You just plug it into a computer, hit 'send' and watch it type the contents out into your favourite word processor... don't you?

    Not only that, but the screen size only means thet can get 3 or 4 lines!
    That's why the batteries last so long and things don't break.

    Like I said before though, the machines serve different purposes so you really need to decide whether you will develop their use. For instance, you could never include a diagram on an AlphaSmart but a netbook would allow for this.

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