The best netbook for an education context?

June 3, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Netbooks 

Just before half term I was having a look around to see where we are with netbooks and came across something a little different from normal. Dell have done the hard work and thought about how to adapt a netbook to suit the educational environment. There may be more companies that have already done this but this is the first one which stood out to me. Although I am not recommending the product yet as I haven’t see it in the flesh or put it through the ultimate testing and feedback- students- I think it is worth everyone having a look at the video below. My first thoughts follow the video.

What I really loved

The thing that really caught my attention was the charging mechanism. I loved the cart which charges with simple slotting and think this is a big gain. I have spoken to three companies recently and when I asked about charging options for their products in a school context all said ‘I will get back to you’. So far none have and it is between 4-6 weeks since we met. Charging is always going to be a top 3 issue in schools.

I like the fact that there is touch screen as an option. Although I wish the video had shown the use of touch screen in a more imaginative way I really think touch screen is the future for education netbooks. The main reason for this in a secondary school is the use of One Note which I think is a product about to come of age. If I can run a netbook which can be used in the same ways as a computer room but also switch to fill the role of an exercise book then the cost savings in a school are huge.

What I am not so sure about

Although the casing does look very robust I wonder how students will feel about them looking so different than a standard laptop or even netbook. Will they look a bit cool and different or have a more ‘second class citizen’ feel to them. If this was the case then they would be dead in the water.

Are these netbooks a little more primary? It was interesting to see the students were more primary focused in the video. Although this is not a bad thing as it would be great to move the netbook agenda forward in primary education. At the same time younger students have very different tastes- younger students we showed the fizzbook for example loved it but our secondary students did not!

What are your thoughts?

I know a lot of people read the netbook posts so it would be great to hear your thoughts. If you have a minute add a comment with your thoughts on this product or if you know of any other education focused netbooks which are better.


2 Responses to “The best netbook for an education context?”
  1. I had some similar reactions to you.

    I was surprised that Dell doesn’t like the idea of students collaborating around one netbook – since I have seen some research that implies that 2:1 is much better than 1:1.

    There also seemed to be quite a few shots – even in the sanitized student environment shown – with kids looking hunched over and vaguely uncomfortable using the technology.

    The touch-screen is intriguing. Can students manipulate objects in Geometer’s Sketchpad or Flash-based animations using their finger like a mouse, or is additional programming necessary?

    In Canada, at least, I don’t seem to be able to get a Linux operating system. The price points still seem rather high to me – I quickly got to $704 CDN when configuring the system.




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  1. [...] going to speculate on it’s advantages for school use but then found that Mike Herrity had beaten me to it.  Rugged design, options for large batteries and touch screens, and a specially designed charging [...]

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