Netbooks in Elementary Schools

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | 9 comments »

There seems to be some excitement over netbooks - mini laptops people are using as an alternative to their main desktop or laptop while they are on the go. I first saw these in person at NECC this past summer in San Antonio, but noticed more and more on little trip to New York City where they were displayed like crazy in the windows of corner electronic stores. In the last couple of months, I've noticed more and more available through many retailers. Black Friday seemed to bring these even more to the forefront for me as I saw ads, both in print and online, for netbooks running around $300. I particularily remember Steve Dembo discussing his Black Friday purchase of one of these little machines on Twitter.

The excitement certainly seems to be growing around these computers, but why hasn't there been a huge push for these to be used more in elementary schools? Netbooks would be perfect for younger students!

Think about the size, it's perfect for young students. The keyboards are small, which would fit the small hand size of primary grade students very well. Proper keyboarding skills could be taught at an earlier age. This could help prevent poor habits from getting started. In our district, we start teaching keyboarding in fourth grade, and even that is tough for some of the students - they have a hard time making some of the reaches to certain keys. If this isn't the route to follow, why are we not at least using kid-sized keyboards? I'm sure there are some on the market, but districts are not choosing to buy them. Are we doing the children a disservice by not using equipment that is their size?

Netbooks are cheap (inexpensive)! Schools are looking for inexpensive technology and this could be a solution. While I've never used one, from what I've read, their functionality would be perfectly fine for elementary kids. I've worked with AlphaSmarts at a few schools and those were purchased with the idea of an inexpensive, portable alternative to laptops. Netbooks would offer much, much more.

I haven't read about a huge push for Netbooks in schools. The discussion is occurring, which I guess is a start. Doug Johnson wrote this post sharing his thoughts. This and this, however, do talk about some uses of Netbooks in schools. Thanks Doug Belshaw, for sharing your post.

What do you think?

9 comments

  1. Doug Belshaw // December 18, 2008 at 12:05 PM  

    No problem, Chad. In response to your (perhaps rhetorical) question, I can see three barriers to adoption:

    1. Cost - $300 x 30 is still a lot of money!

    2. Power - trailing cables unless you've got netbooks with stellar battery life and a good recharging system.

    3. Fear - it takes a brave teacher to develop new pedagogies.

  2. Kimwren // December 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM  

    While I think these could be great for elementary kiddos- I think Doug may be right. In our building the #1 issue we are/would be dealing with is installing drops(which would cost more than the computers) because wireless runs so slow to be useful on all of them at once. Totally would love trying them out though!!

  3. Penny Ryder // January 6, 2009 at 11:52 PM  

    My school is hoping to set up a class set of laptops to be used in classes like a travelling computer lab. We have wireless internet in the school, but I hadn't thought through the aspect of powering the laptops.
    It is a lot of money, I know, and not every teacher would use them, but if you could get a few teachers on board, the others would join once the problems had been ironed out and the benefits were seen.

  4. psikeyhackr // May 26, 2009 at 5:42 PM  

    Schools don't exist to serve kids.

    Kids exist to serve schools.

    NetbookationWhy haven't schools created a reading list for kids in the last 50 years?

  5. Kimwren // May 26, 2009 at 10:13 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  6. Kimwren // May 26, 2009 at 10:15 PM  

    So in response to those last comments, which were clearly written by people who have no value for education yet (and may very well be students who think it's cool to leave a comment critizing and belittling people rather than being helpful and adding to the conversation), I'd like to add my own comment here. Any educator worth anything knows that we are doing what we do to help kids grow and become people who value learning for the sake of learning. (It's certainly not for the money..or the summer vacation which gets shorter each year I might add) Teachers ARE there to serve kids and help them to be all they can be. And while kids don't get complete freedom in schools, they are truly lucky to live in a time where there are so many new and exciting ways to learn. To the last comment about why haven't they made a new reading list in the last 50 years, I'd like to ask "What planet are you from???" Hello- there are reading lists all over the place. Check your local library. Check your local school district. Ours puts a new one out every year with books kids like. Not to mention using the internet to find new and exciting books. If you're taking the time to read this blog why not check out some of the blogs from the Kidlitosphere where they are EXPERTS at finding AWESOME new kids books??? Try these for starters: Three Silly Chicks, Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast, Kidderlit, Just One more book.... I could go on and on. Maybe you should do more research on this topic before you try to blast an entire profession next time.

  7. psikeyhackr // July 23, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

    {{{ To the last comment about why haven't they made a new reading list in the last 50 years, I'd like to ask "What planet are you from???" Hello- there are reading lists all over the place. Check your local library. Check your local school district. }}}

    Oh really? Double-entry accounting is 700 years old. Why hasn't accounting been made mandatory in our schools by now.

    Look at the state of the American economy. In 1995 the number of cars in the US passed 200,000,000. How much do American consumers l9se on the depreciation of automobiles every year? Have the economists ever said.

    I have 3 accounting books and not one of them has a diagram of cash flow. The books are written to make subjects complicated so people spend a lot of time in school. Education is the acquisition of relevant knowledge. It serves the economic interests of schools to dribble it out.

    Kiddie Accounting

    Yeah there are reading lists all over the place. How many just give titles and authors and no info about content. And why are there so many? Can't the teachers agree on what is good? Apparently not. So I made one.

    Book List

    With links of course.

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