The best-selling netbooks typically fall within the $300 to $400 range and their capabilities are increasing rapidly as manufacturers figure out how to include more features. For example, we are seeing larger or solid state hard drives, additional external ports, more included software, touch screens, and the emergence of tablet netbooks or netbooks with removable displays.
Netbooks traditionally have been positioned as laptop replacements and are selling briskly because they can do what we need most of the time. However, many K-12 educators feel that netbooks are not a good option for student 1:1 computing initiatives because they lack the capabilities of a full laptop computer.
I’ve been reading lately about attempts to get electronic book readers (e-readers) into the hands of students. I wonder if schools should be thinking of netbooks as e-readers intead, particularly as tablet-style netbooks and free / low-cost online or electronic textbook initiatives both become more prevalent. The cost of a netbook is comparable to a Kindle, for example, and has greater functionality than the typical e-reader (rather than lesser functionality compared to a laptop). A student carrying around a $400 tablet netbook could use it primarily as an e-reader and also as a laptop replacement. This dual functionality might make netbooks a smart bet for many schools, particularly as the cost decreases – and availability increases – of online and electronic textbook options. Savings on textbooks might offset or even pay for the cost of the netbooks.
Does thinking of netbooks as e-readers make them a more attractive option to schools rather than considering them solely as laptops? Do dedicated electronic book readers such as the Kindle or the Sony e-Reader make any sense for K-12 schools? Thoughts?
We are about to deploy 800 netbooks in a 1-1 program for HS students. The portability and cost were huge selling points. We also plan to keep some specialty labs for the heavy lifting programs. As a classroom tool, we feel they will be invaluable for access to our LMS, Google Apps, wiki and blogging platforms. Using them as eReaders has been a topic of discussion also. We are launching with a Ubuntu Netbook remix Operating System and a plethora of open source and/or free applications.
It is difficult to find the texts / books needed in a usable format. Hopefully, this stumbling block will eventually disappear.
This is such a great idea! There are many free e-readers for use out there. A subscription to Bookshare.com would greatly increase the usability of such a device. And all the free web apps would allow quite a bit of functionality. Obviously the idea of keeping some computer labs for heavy duty programs. I hope this mindset really takes off!
from what we’re thinking right now –
we would bag the kindle and the netbook for a laptop that has the space and power to do things like voice streaming and video making.
on the kindle – we think texts will no longer be as we know them – even to download on a kindle. we will be gathering “text” info from all over – what is needed is web access. not a holder. i’d rather have my kids use diigo to annotate, etc sites we find.
on the netbook – just not enough for the price to compare to a laptop (today anyway.) my kids are requesting the power and size of a laptop for the videos and podcasts they are wanting to make for projects. and over time – the small size is wearing on their eyes esp.
just our perception.
I agree with Monica, kids are wanting more power and ability to create off of the internet. In other words, they can’t always rely on Google Apps or Open Office to perform their tasks. Down the road when broadband is more prevalent and dependable within our communities, perhaps netbooks will provide what students want and need. We have laptops for our students coming into our 2nd year of a 1:1 and I hear of how they “get to” work on large applications at home! That is powerful when a teenager says they “get to” work on homework at home. If they don’t have access to internet, apps may not be available. All of our student work is mirrored to server at each login from their laptop.
I find that Mobipocket works well on my Palm Tungsten and I can use the same e-books on my computer. It’s a free download. The desktop version can convert any word document or PDF file to the Mobipocket format that works with both platforms. gutenburg project has started offering Mobipocket on a lot of their free books as does Baen free library. I have 115 books occupying 87.4 MB on a 2GB SD card. Imagine trying to carry the equivalent dead tree versions in a backpack. The Palm display 320 x 480 is a bit small, but my wife’s 10″ netbook is an ideal size and almost as portable.
I’m not sure that netbooks as ebooks will be a good selling point, Scott, simply because most school leaders (sadly) aren’t even all that interested in ebooks!
As crazy as it seems to you and I to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on textbooks, there is something comforting to lots and lots of people about holding a textbook in their hands. Heck, I’ve essentially done away with textbooks in my classroom, but I still “take flak” from everyone from parents to principals who can’t figure out how I’m teaching without them!
My bet is that the move to netbooks as textbook replacement will happen AFTER administrators embrace netbooks as a way to get more computers into more classrooms at a lower cost. While having a high-powered machine will always be appealing, the fact of the matter is that in many schools, high-powered machines are just not an option considering the tech budgets we’re working with.
That means netbooks—however ‘limited’ (although I’d argue that my kids could do ANYTHING with a netbook and online applications that they can do with a full sized machine)—-are going to multiply.
And when they do, introducing new uses—textbook replacement etc—will be an easier sell.
Any of this make sense?
I have a netbook (Acer Inspire 1) (http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/search/label/Acer ) and I have found it to be very useful for all sorts of things. In fact, I think it can do 95% of what students would need it to do. Web browsing, email, watching videos, creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, creating and editing videos, and more. I have found it to be a full featured device and very useful . I think schools should look at using them as an every day resource for students.
im a college student and im stuck with this netbook that im replacing with a full sized 400 dollar laptop. netbooks dont have the power that i need and im not satisfied with the notion that colleges want student to use these netbooks. i think they need to try em out and see how limited they really are then they would see how us students feel good day all.