Getting the most from the smallest PC
This morning we had a ball playing about with the tiny but beautiful Asus EeePC, being sold by RM in the UK. It runs on open source operating system and software, and its platform is centred around free communication tools such as Google Docs, iGoogle, Skype and Messenger. It's got a huge potential, considering its tiny size (and tiny price: Just $330).
But my colleagues and I quickly got down to how we could see the impact of a machine like this in Scottish classrooms, particularly if we were managing some sort of in-school project, if, pedagogically and culturally, the schools we chose weren't ready to change the way teaching and learning took place.
One school in Scotland, which seems to be getting things right, underwent huge cultural and pedagogical change recently when they fitted out every child with an Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC). The teaching style of every individual changed, and learning with this new tool had to take on a different face, too.
But these weren't just implicit changes. They made huge efforts on a systemic scale to make sure that this transformative tool had a transformative impact in the classroom. I've rooted out three of Islay High School's UMPC man's posts that show this. Islay's Ian Stuart has helped staff change by helping adapt the system from the "way it's always been done" into something brand new:
- Removing age and stage restrictions on who does how many of which courses at school;
- Having multi-age composite classes to help learning;
- Dedicating part of the week to project work only.
These are the (rather extensive and profound) changes that are required if any technology introducing social media, social collaboration and learning are going to succeed, I think. So, with this beautiful tool, we'll have to work hard to find the Cinderella's foot that fits.