I observed some schools a week ago that were using Asus EEE PCs in the classroom. At least from initial observations and interviews, it appears that these low-cost bring substantially the same benefits as higher-cost laptops, though at a greatly reduced price. See my first-hand report over at OLPC News.
Archive for May, 2009
“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decisionmaking, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”
Campbell’s Law, put forth in 1976 by Donald Campbell, prominent American social scientist and president of the American Psychological Association
As reported on Liliputing, NorhTec is launching a Gecko EduBook (PDF link) netbook with some fascinating features. First, it uses a low power 1GHz Xcore86 CPU that uses just 1.2 watts of power. On the one hand, this is a pretty low-power machine (in comparision, the Asus 901 Eee PC used n some school districts uses a 1.66 GHz processor), which will limit its capacity, but also allows many other interesting innovations.
For example, it can run on AA batteries rather than more expensive lithium batteries. It doesn’t require a fan, which brings down the power usage and weight. Since the power supply is internal, you don’t need a real power adaptor, just a $2 cord to plug it in. It’s also entirely module, allowing you to easily swap out the CPU and RAM and other components. It comes default with Linux but can supposedly run Windows XP (if anybody is silly enough to want to run Windows on a low-power machine like this.) NorhTec says the base models will cost as little as $200.
I expect that within three years, there will be an impressive range of sub $250 netbooks suitable for schools (with a number of models in the $150-$200 range), and financial obstacles toward integration of computers in U.S. schools will be much more easily overcome than today.