Netbooks in Texas Schools

Student with NetbookThe Dallas Morning News published the article Dallas-Fort Worth School District Calculates Different Ways to Use Netbook in Classes. The newspaper tells about the Irving School District's decision to replace older, larger laptops with 4,600 ASUS Eee PC 1000HE netbooks. Netbooks are those small notebook computers with screens smaller than 10 inches, no CD drives, and keyboards that are 90% the standard size.

The article mentions the following benefits of and comments about netbooks:

  • cost (The district paid $487 per unit, including warranty and software. Previously they paid $1,000 per laptop.)
  • easier to carry
  • fits on a desk along with a textbook
  • it has a camera
  • battery life
  • the 10 inch screen size is not an issue
  • students save work to flash or network drives
  • they're cute

Here's more from The Dallas Morning News story:

The smaller computers are more closely related to cellphones, which many students are familiar with. They're also not the best option for advanced video production capabilities.

But educators say they are ideal for basic functions as more schools get wireless access and move textbooks and lessons online.

I think stating that netbooks are "more closely related to cellphones" is inaccurate. I'm guessing the aging Dell laptops in the Irving School District probably have less processing power and memory than the netbooks that are replacing them. Most netbooks run Windows XP and can handle most Windows software. It sure seems to me that netbooks are related to laptop computers much more closely than cellphones. Yes, mobile phones are becoming more and more computer-like. But, when trying to get others to understand what a netbook is, I think it's misleading to say they are so similar to cellphones.

Then, there's a new term being tossed around--Smartbooks. It's hard to keep up with what tech companies decide to call things...

Photo by Pete Prodoehl on Flickr.