Mobile devices: Mini-laptops (netbooks)
Category: Mini-laptops, aka netbooks
These are smaller, lightweight laptops that are typically configured with minimal memory and priced very economically.
Manufacturers and models:
Most of the major laptop manufacturers also make mini-laptops.
The prices for these devices depends on how you configure them. They can be as cheap as $200 or as expensive as $1,000 or more. Devices suitable for mobile learning can easily be found in the $300 price range.
- Low cost
- Built-in keyboard
- Full computing capabilities
- Relative stability of devices (especially compared with other mobile platforms)
- Generally not robust enough for advanced multimedia creation, such as video editing
- Less mobile than some alternatives
- Smaller screens can be a problem with some applications
- Google Apps (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation)
- Anything Web 2.0
- Robust curriculum content
- Learning management systems (a place to serve as a “home base” for all your instructional resources and to track student use and achievement)
- Wikis (basic)
- Moodle (advanced)
Things to consider and some opinions:
- Configure to keep the cost low.
We believe in less expensive hardware to allow the broadest access possible. While purchasers are often tempted to load up these devices with lots of memory, large hard drives, full operating systems, and costly software, none of this is really necessary. The whole point of “netbooks” is to use free or inexpensive web-based software and storage solutions.
- Good wireless is essential.
- Think about battery life and power requirements.
Get a device that can make it through the school day without charging.
- Get good cases and let students take the devices home to maximize their effectiveness.
- Think about your curriculum goals before deciding on any devices.
Mini-laptops are one of the most flexible types of mobile devices. They are particularly appropriate for writing and for older middle school and high school students.
- Preload the devices with as much content as possible.
When students have access to content and a reason to use them for school, they are more likely to use them productively. (This means professional development for teachers as well.)