My latest roundup of links and tools…
The critics need a reboot
David Wolman’s article in Wired Magazine is a quick and effective rebuttal of those who claim that technology is making us stupid.
Social networking for babies
Yep, that’s right. Social networking for babies: Made a mess in my pants today. Slept. Made a mess in my pants today. Slept…
The $70 PC
Using a thin client model for school computers seems like an idea that has promise. And of course a $70 price tag per computer sounds great. Does anyone know a school organization that’s working with NComputing?
Should kids learn about 9/11 via cartoons?
Gary Stager’s got a vein pop about BrainPop…
Thanks to Dean Shareski, I now know about the Handheld Learning web site. Thanks, Dean!
Youth, porn, and violence
Want the latest facts on youth exposure to pornography and violent web sites? Head to Harvard’s Berkman Center!
Speaking of the Berkman Center…
There is a LOT going on at the Center. Check out its list of projects (the list is clickable thanks to Kwout) and sign up for its news feed!
Karl Fisch is big in Germany
If you didn’t catch it, Karl recently posted about a German
magazine’s story about his school and the Did You Know? video. Anybody read
Snow in the bathroom
And, finally, here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t read
Doug Johnson while you’re supposedly participating in a serious meeting. Thy
guffaw mayest disrupt…
Social networking for babies. Well, my cat has a social network with 59 feline friends, some deceased.
Google his name, Sootie, and he will appear within the first 10 links. Crazy.
The $70 PC
Its not all it is cracked up to be. The thin-client system/theory/set-up has been around for years – formally called dummy terminals.
I use to work in a district which was hooked on the idea. The dummy-terminal basically logs-into a server remotely. The server contains the software needed for the client working on the terminal. The server also provides a location for the client to save their data.
It all works great if you have a huge beefed-up server which can handle all the software you want to use (also some software cannot be loaded as a “server based” application) and the number of clients you want to access the software at the same time.
Also some “thin-clients” are much better then others. Some have built in RAM which allow for them to relieve some stress from the server. Some have usb ports, cdroms, even solid state HD space for temporary files.
When it is all said in done I don’t think it really saves you that much. They are a lot more networking work and depending on the software you would like to use – possibly impractical. You would also need to purchase a extremely fast beefed-up server to house all the server side applications.
What do I know though – I am just a shop teacher 🙂
We’re actually using n-computing in my building/district – with mixed results. They pretty much work as advertised, as long as you only put one n-computing card in a computer (it’s possible to put two, but they get pretty flaky and n-computing isn’t really recommending that just yet – if that would work, the cost savings are even better).
They work fine for basic uses (Word Processing, PowerPoint, web-based stuff), but you don’t want to be doing video editing on them because of the shared resources. Also, some apps won’t work (like Google Earth and some educational apps like TuxType – that can’t run multiple sessions of the software). We still have to pay MS software licensing for 4 machines (host and 3 clients), but only one Symantec license.
Ultimately I don’t see these as a solution because they’re tied (pretty much literally) to desktop machines. But for a short-term solution to provide more access for students, they work fairly well.
Having had multiple opportunities to work with various sundry thin-client setups over the past 10 years, I gotta agree with Karl on this one…they’re great for things like a word processing lab or the like, but for anything more than basic office functions, the amount of network support needed (such as infrastructure and the beefy server mentioned by Tony) tend to negate whatever savings there may be.
On another topic, I would have characterized Wolman’s WIRED article more as snarky and dismissive rather than quick and effective. Whether I agree with the positions or not, some of the works he brushes aside with a condescending wave of his hand actually raise some valid questions that we as educators should allow to be part of the discussion. The kind of smug dismissal prevalent in Wolman’s prose only serves to close down the very discussion we should be encouraging–though WIRED’s readership would certainly qualify as the choir.