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Friday, May 09, 2008

Eee PC hands-on

Jonathan Nalder

I’m on secondment from my Learning Support teacher job this week to a Master Class in using ICTs for Inclusive Education. Always on the lookout to try out new mobile technology, I did of course grab the opportunity for a hands-on with not one but two Asus Eee PC’s (the slightly older 7 inch model).

They are of course very small and very desirable! Back to being professional however, it is obvious right from the start that they would be very useful in an education setting, especially given their around A$500 price tag. You’re not getting top of the line specs for that kind of money, but 512mb RAM and 4GB storage would be more than enough for the primary age students I work with.

Their size is around that of an exercise book and blends in very well with the items you’d normally find on any kids table. Even the small-ish keyboard is not a problem for younger kids. What else? Its very light, but has a sturdy build-quality, and being able to record audio, pictures and video as well just multiplies the possible educational uses. Plus they are available from just about all chain electronic stores, so support and availability should be good.

As you can see from the images at right, one was running Windows XP, with the other one running the Eee PC’s Linux OS, and it was interesting to compare the two. The XP model is the one that my school system would adopt as it will work with our networks, and of course the familiarity for students of this OS is a plus.

On the downside though, 7 inches of screen real estate is just a bit too small for prolonged use of XP. The Linix OS on the other hand has been designed for the smaller screen and with its icon and tab-based GUI is very intuituve - students would have no problems navigating its various programs, which include all the productivity and communication software students could need. It even includes some educational games by default.

There is a 9-inch screen model coming soon (a few days), as well as similar-sized machines from just about every major PC manufacturer, so this is definitely one class of mobile devices to watch.

1 comment:

Sharon Wu said...

I've always enjoy your blog. As EeePc has been widely discussed it's use in learning. Have you used EeePc in your classroom as a mobile learning tool yet?