While we are on the subject of netbooks, my school just received our first cart of netbooks. The spoiled high school students have had two carts for years now! It was about time.
The netbooks have actually been in the building for some time, but we had to get a few issues handled when it came to integrating these machines into our Wi-Fi network. However, things were soon running great with all of the students logged on, able to see their network drives and working happily on writing projects and Glogster.
I will say one thing, despite the netbooks’ small screens, I like that students have ample desk space sitting in the classroom. This allows them to have a book or a notebook next to them while they are working—something that a large keyboard, monitor, and mouse in the computer lab makes difficult. It also lets me stagger my instruction. I can have a half of my class finishing up their spelling while the other half works on their papers without having to move between two rooms.
After my first few days teaching with netbooks, here are my recommendations for getting any netbook for the classroom:
1) Make sure that you pound the idea of keeping cords untangled into students’ little skulls. If the back of the cart becomes rat’s nest of cables, the next step is that they don’t get plugged in. We now have a new job in my classroom along with the milkman and the librarian: the AV guy. The AV guy has to make sure that the cart is in tip-top shape at all times and observes people removing and plugging their computers in.
2) Make sure that you train all the kids to know where the WiFi button is on their laptops. In case they can’t log in, it’s the first place they will need to look.
3) Teach them how to mute their machines. Our HP mini netbooks actually have a little mute light that turns on which makes this easy.
4) Teach them to use the full screen feature of Internet Explorer by hitting F11. It frees up a lot of space and makes using the tiny screens bearable.
I’ll let you know how things go with the other classes, since I will no doubt be giving a lot of talks to the other classrooms on how to use our wonderful new toys.