Monday, November 22, 2010

1:1 Vision Established - Why Netbooks?

It was during the NECC conference in San Antonio in 2008 that a way forward for our students to enjoy the same 1:1 opportunity as their more affluent peers took shape in our leader's mind. And since then he has been working tirelessly to bring this about - with a magnificent team of helpers. This was reinforced at ISTE in Denver this year.

The next series of posts are my attempt to document snippets of the process we have gone through.

Since the advent of Web 2 technologies around 2005 and the with the impetus of the Manaiakalani projects beginning mid 2007, we have been exploring ways in which our students can use these emerging technologies to improve their academic achievement outcomes as well as increase their motivation and engagement. This has been well documented on this blog and through the research carried out.

As we suspected, this approach has been successful with our students and the only major drawback has been the lack of access to enabling technologies. This produces inequity with only some classes being able to work in this way and some students. In order for every student to have a 21st century learning environment every student needs to have access - to a device and to the internet. And in a community like ours, where the mean income is $17 K per annum, this is only going to happen through the schools for the majority of students.

In the same time period the government announced a focus on getting all households access to ultra fast broadband, beginning with the schools. And we were exploring the possibilities offered by cloud computing, particularly the free offering to schools through Google Apps for Education.

In the last major wave of technolgy - the pencil and paper revolution - our families (mostly Maori and Pasifika) were amongst the last off the starting block in adopting it. And their children have been playing catchup ever since. This time round - the computer technology revolution- we have the opportunity to be amongst the first, so why wouldn't we find a way to make it happen? Partlicularly because our students adapt to it so quickly and creatively.

Why Netbooks?

It all comes down to price really. As an ADE, of course I would love to see all our students with iPads or macBook Airs - but that is never going to happen is it!
So we needed a device which would enable cloud computing for our students. Robust, quick internet connection, large enough screen to be able to work on effectively, and all at a cost of $10-$15 / month for their parents to pay.

Netbooks seemed to fit the bill so that is what we explored.