Friday, May 23, 2008

Comparing OCPL Solutions

In thinking about the One Child Per Laptop Program, I began to ponder if it was only low cost laptops they are using, and yes, If you read my previous blog on the topic, you know that I think XO's and the OCPL program is the bomb. So do schools use any other types of technology for one to one learning, my research concludes that they certainly do.
1. Palm Pilots: The cost is down to $100 and students can do similar functions as they can a laptop and there are thousands of free applications online. Students in the classroom can take charge of teaching each other new uses. Students can also take notes and schedule homework assignments. For more information on the use of palm pilots in the school, check out The University of Florida's Palm Pilot Project or Education Worlds article, Hand Helds in the Classroom.
2. Tablet Pc's: These are slick and are getting smaller every year and as one teacher puts it "the Tablet PC and the high-speed connection to the Internet gives students broader access to knowledge and allows them to participate more in learning instead of watching him lecture at a chalkboard." What a concept, students participating in learning. I think I like it. One of the first schools to actually use the table pc was in Canada at the Northern Lights Public School. Check out the article I found here. I also found a great blog by Dean Shareski where he takes a community walk with students using tablet pc's and is able to bring in Jeff Utecht in Malaysia via Skype. Very cool. So what's the down fall here. The cost, roughly about $1500. Ouch!
3. Thin Clients: Now this may be the way to go. With all info residing on the educators server, monitoring and software usage become less of a problem. They are aso
fanless, noiseless, and use just 5 watts of electricity according to an article by emachines. I can see where a school district might find this beneficial. I also see a huge downside, once the student leaves the classroom, they may be leaving their only option for internet usage and technology. I believe that when it comes to one to one solutions, we are looking to empower our students a little bit more than a thin client will allow.
4. The XO by MIT: The cost alone has me sold and the same benefits as any one to one program. With it's new partnership with Microsoft and it's ability to dual boot, I think this is where I would be leaning in the educational arena.

If you have used other pieces of technology in your class or know of any, I would love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I think all of these solutions are inadequate but they are converging on an as-yet-uncreated device. The tablets are way too expensive for schools, handhelds too limited, the XO - well, let's just say I own one and I haven't touched it since about March. If anything, I think Amazon's Kindle is the sign of things to come: very lightweight, wireless, low power consumption, cheap. If Amazon were smart they would be partnering with textbook companies and offering schools massive content agreements to sell electronic textbooks on the Kindle. Each kid gets one and each year it is reloaded with all of the texts for the year. Plus, it gives each kid a gateway to the web. They should be giving the hardware away and charging for the content. It's a win-win: the schools don't have to maintain and replace expensive, heavy, and easy-to-lose textbooks, the kids get the access they need when and where they need it, and Amazon (or whoever) gets access to the huge education market.