Netbooks for the Classroom

I received the following email inquiry from an elementary teacher.

I keep hearing about these affordable computers that are pretty small. I know that they typically are not loaded with software. I am looking for a way to allow the students access to the internet. Will these allow me to do that?

Netbooks run roughly anywhere from $300 – $700 and they work well for what you probably need. Here’s a recent review of the best netbooks according to CNET.

Here are some of the most popular classroom options.

What advice would you offer for educators that considering purchasing and using netbooks in the classroom?

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

5 thoughts on “Netbooks for the Classroom”

  1. I don’t think it will be long before the chalkboard and erasers will be in the pile with quill pens and inkwells. Future programs will allow personalization to account for vision and learning difficulties. Students at home for sickness will be able to participate if well enough. Mainstreaming will be an archaic phrase.

    Fredh’s last blog post..Tips for Buying a Laptop

  2. For those wanting to hear how teachers are using netbooks, check out the latest episode of the Soft Reset podcast. I interview 9 classroom teachers who recently began using class sets of Eee PC 1000Hs. The teacher share great curriculum and management ideas. You’ll also hear about just how excited students and teachers are to use the mini laptops.

  3. I was very against netbooks until they came out with XP. Not that I’m a huge XP fan, but at school we need to deal with security junk. Also, our tech people are swamped by the thousands of computers we have, I don’t feel there’s a reason for them to HAVE to learn Linux if XP is an option (not at this point, anyway). We haven’t purchased any and don’t have any solid plans to, but I’m much more open to the idea now.

  4. I am loving my Acer Aspire One. I purchased it online because I wanted the 160 GB HD, Atom processor, and 6-cell battery.

    The machine runs XP. I’ve had no problem setting up any software I run on my bigger laptop and my external optical drive works fine for CDs.

    I’ve traveled twice with the Acer and it worked fine with multiple projection devices and popping onto various wireless networks.

    This is the third netbook I’ve purchased and this is the one I will use on future trips–and I will leave my larger laptop home. Yes, the keyboard is a bit small, but it’s worth it.

    This past weekend I saw Aspire Ones with the configuration described above available online for $299.

  5. I have some thoughts on netbooks in classrooms…

    First, I would not recommend the XO. It is super slow and some of the more advanced websites don’t work very well with it.

    I would suggest getting a netbook with a 10 inch screen. That seems to be a sweet spot for being able to show a webpage. Also, be sure the classroom has a source of power. If you don’t have power handy where the netbooks will be used, I suggest purchasing netbooks with 6-cell batteries. These will last much longer than the cheaper 4-cell batteries.

    You can get a netbook with Linux or Windows XP as the operating system. While netbooks that run Linux are less expensive, teachers may have to do some learning about how to use them (loading software, navigating menus, networking, etc). Though, netbooks, like the name implies, are a great way to get on the Internet. Because there are so many great web apps (software that you simply run in your browser) out there now, it’s possible that the only software you’d run is the web browser. In that case, your operating system doesn’t matter.

    I have found that I really like my Eee PC 1000HA that runs Windows. This way I can install popular software like iTunes (which doesn’t run on Linux). Also, I’m more comfortable with Windows as I know more about troubleshooting it than I do Linux.

    Students are drawn to netbooks because they look pretty darn cool and they can do just about everything a larger laptop can do. Personally, the keyboards are too small for my hands and I have difficulty typing. Younger students may actually appreciate the smaller keyboard (about 80% the size of a standard keyboard) because their hands are about four-fifths the size of mine.

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