We are exploring and researching mini-laptops and netbooks to purchase in our quest for 1-to-1 computing in our 3-5 school. We're not there yet but are looking into purchasing several computer on wheel carts (COWs). What are you using for elementary school students? What is working well and what suggestions do you have for a school looking to purchase these?
Our District is currently using Apple MacBooks in the computer carts. Each of these schools is set up as one laptop for every two students. In all of the circumstances I've heard of, teachers and students love these. We have one high school that has set up carts with netbooks to be used by every student. I've not yet heard how that is working out. (I, however, did hear it was a HUGE mess to set up as the principal did not work through our District's Technology office and there were NO plans made to set up the netbooks. It took all 9 of our High School technology specialists three days to complete the setup.)
I have seen many different situations at work in elementary schools. My previous school had two COWs of Dell windows computers. Each cart had a permanently attached wireless router, and the computers were able to use only that connection. It worked pretty well, but the carts were very heavy and teachers had to make arrangements to have a little time to set up the cart when they picked it up in the library. Students were not allowed to push the carts from room to room for several reasons, so the transition time was sometimes an issue.
The same problem would exist for Mac laptops in carts, I think.
Netbooks I have not seen in use yet. I would wonder about their sturdiness, and if they could be in a smaller charging cart than the laptops.
Remember that netbooks don't have an optical drive (CD or DVD) so software must be downloaded from Internet or a network drive to install it. Not a problem, just a consideration.
I have seen several groups of teachers learning to use netbooks all at once. These were provided as incentives for participating in tech Professional Development that they would implement in the coming year. These can be a bit problematic for older teachers, as we can't see the screen. Of course, the resolution can be changed, but then you have to scroll up and down as well as left-to-right to see the entire screen. I also found that when teachers were given these, and they were led to websites to install various things like the Cool Timer from Harmony Hollow, they often did not read all of the pages that came up during the installation process, and they ended up with extra toolbars like the Google Toolbar and the Harmony Hollow toolbar. If they were not savvy enough to avoid this or to turn off the extra toolbars, a large portion of their available screen real estate was taken up by the toolbars. Again, something to teach about- not necessarily a reason to avoid the netbooks.
I can't help but add this for your consideration... Many 1:1 situations are entered before the teachers are trained and asked to be accountable for change in instructional practice. This is a main reason I find training teachers in the Intel Teach (R) programs so valuable. If every student has a laptop or netbook on which to work, but they still only use them to do things that could have been done with a pencil, then those are mighty expensive pencils. It's not enough to do book reports and look up information for a report on the Internet. We must be certain that the computers will be used to do things that could not be done with a pencil. Projects! Connections with real-world students and adults! Collaboration! These must be built into any 1:1 initiative and are far more important than the hardware your schools decides to purchase.
(OK, I'm off the soap box now! Thanks for listening!)
Thanks, Bonnie. I've had many of the same thoughts. There is a lot to consider when moving towards a 1:1 situation. We have 26 core classrooms and are looking at purchasing 3 COWs this year. We have 2 labs and 9 portable laptops for use at this time. Our tech department is not sold on netbooks b/c of various reasons and they believe we can get a good laptop for about the same price. We have heard pros and cons from both sides.
Many of our schools are buying Mac books for the students. These work great for Web 2.0 tools, and activities that incorporate digital cameras or video camreas, podcasting, etc.
A lot of the 1:1 initiatives we've seen haven't been successful due to the same reasons other people have mentioned. Teachers aren't trained, and students aren't encouraged or even allowed to use the laptops in most classrooms. It results in a big waste of money.
We just recently received a grant for almost $1 million to help out several districts in our area that were low performing in math and science. Those classrooms are receiving a teacher laptop, projector, and interactive whiteboard. And a set of laptops - 1 per student group (about 5 or 6 laptops per classroom). These would be used for individual and group projects. Teachers are going to be trained throughout the next two years on how to use the equipment, but also how to manage groups during project-based learning.
Our sales and marketing team has put together a great resource for districts planning 1-1 deployments. From pd, to content to technical support- this toolkit has lots of great ideas on how to make your investment in technology pay off.....
This site has many great resources for implementing a 1:1 deployment. Thanks so much for sharing. I've already found some great information to share with leaders at my school. We are moving in that direction, although it will be several years before we are totally 1:1. Your site has exactly what we were looking for. We want to move slowly to provide the support that teachers and staff need in order to use the tools that will be at their disposal. Infrastructure, satff development and choosing the right tools are essential in making this successful. A lot of work as gone into developing this site.
Here is a great tie in to all the "primary students" discussion comments that have been contributed this past month and a great compliment to the March "Primary Students" webinar. Watch a Kindergarten teacher at Poway Elementary (San Diego County) doing amazing things with 1-1 e-learning in her classroom.
I"ve been working with 1:1 implementations quite a bit this year. Here are some suggestions: