Saturday, August 7, 2010

Netbooks - The pencil NOT the book

As we prepare for the unprecedented (in New Zealand) rollout of 1:1 computing for a community of Decile 1 students, one of our recurring discussions has been about the misunderstandings the terms 'notebook' or 'netbook' lead to.

In our planning and preparations we see the device the students use as the pencil or pen. This provides lots of flexibility in terms of what we choose or even what the students bring from home.

The "book" for the Manaiakalani schools is definitely the Cloud solution we have set up. In our case this is Google Apps for Education.

We expect our students to be writing on documents in the cloud, using spreadsheets, creating presentations and even drawing and recording sound via their "books" in the cloud. The Google Apps are supplemented by a wide variety of Web 2 tools teachers and students can select from.

When our educators get their heads around this concept, it answers the questions which arise time and again; what software will be on their devices? what happens when they break or leave them at home? how much storage space will be on their hard drives? etc?
The device is simply the pencil - if it breaks, just like a pencil, get another one (or sharpen it!) and carry on working because your "book" is in the cloud.

This simplicity in thinking and working depends of course on a very reliable supply of fast internet to every school and home. And we are working on that too.

Thanks very much Lepa from Room 18 for drawing the graphics I wanted :)


  1. Hello,
    Great to see you entering the exciting world of 1-1.
    We are in the second year of having them in our year 7/8 classes and I can't even begin to tell you how much more exciting teaching has become for me.
    I am 52 years old and NOT a computer whizz. It has been a huge learning curve for us and a lot of tweaking along the way with heaps of enjoyment and learning. If I can help in any way, I'd be glad to. Here is our class wiki, there might be something helpful there.
    Brigid Stevens, Greytown School, NZ

  2. @Brigid Thanks for making the connection here and leaving us your link. We have also heard from Kevin this week about what you are doing there. I have shared your wiki link with our teachers and we will be very happy to follow in your footsteps and learn from what you are doing. There are some very obvious differences between a netbook rollout and a MacBook one, and some of the thinking we are exploring (as shared in this post) would not apply when your device is a Rolls Royce :) However, we still know there is much we can learn from you. Particularly interested in the 24/7 learning of the students and how you organise it. And how you have arranged for this digital learning world they live in to be accessible to them for life. Do they get to take their 'books' (as defined above, not the MacBooks) with them when they leave your school.

  3. Hi there, sorry, haven't looked here in a while. Yes, they get to keep their wiki "books" with them and if I've done my job properly, they wiil keep on checking their links to my diigo account for new tools and ideas as long as they wish :)