Following on from Mobile devices in the classroom - what and why? I am looking at Netbooks (probably the Fizzbook Spin) or maybe an android tablet? These would be used mainly for research at the desk for Primary children.
I can see the benefit of the netbook, with Office etc installed could be used for more than just research but the HT is eager to try something new.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
Laptop, etc, batteries should be considered consulables - they will only last so long before they stop holding a decent amount of charge. Whatever device you buy, investigate the expected battery lifetime and budget for replacement batteries as needed. You might not be able to get new batteries for your particular device model in a year or two, so you might actually want to buy another set of batteries now.
In my experience, mobile laptop trollies are a waste of time and money - well-designed, secure ones are expensive, no-one ever remembers to plug all the laptops back in to recharge and after an initial burst of enthusiasm people get fed up with the palavar of lugging the trolly into the classroom for the start of a lesson. Better to have static storage with a multi-battery charger, so pupils can simply swap batteries if theirs has run out. This puts your average Android tablet at a disadvantage, as they don't tend to have removeable batteries.
It's better to have devices evenly distributed around classrooms - if you can't afford full class sets for every classroom that's fine, just have half-a-dozen per classroom and use them for carousel activities, casual use, etc - not every child in every classroom needs to use a laptop all the time.
I liked the Fizzbook Spin I tried at BETT (the same device seemed to be being sold under several different names by several companies, so you can shop around). The touchscreen was actually just right - you could handwrite on it with the stylus, or you could do simple press-button interaction, if you needed a keyboard obviously you had one right there. Something like the RM Tablet has a screen that makes a usable keyboard.
I'd be tempted to say buy a bunch of Fizzbooks and Kensignton-lock them to desks, just keep them in a draw under desks. Anytime someone wants to use a PC they can just pick it up out of the tray and use it, then put it back afterwards. Power would be provided by a separately charged battery, networking would be provided by wireless. OS-wise, I'd have the machine run a web browser locally and do anything else on a Terminal Services machine.
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