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I was reading a post on the International Society for Technology in Education over the weekend about going back to traditional computer labs rather than using computer carts and I wanted to share my thoughts.
At one time, about 10 years ago my school purchased 3 laptop carts complete with 12 laptops each and a printer for each cart. I was in charge of distributing them to the teachers as needed along with my regular teaching duties. At the time wireless technology in laptops was kind of new, the carts were challenging to use. Don’t get me wrong, when everything was working they served their purpose. But, give me a traditional computer lab any day.
Here were the most common issues I had with the carts.
- Set up time- I had to set up the cart to work properly then tear it down
- Wireless connectivity the cart had the wireless port; was unreliable
- Laptops were unreliable slow loading
- BATTERY LIFE- eventually I would plug them all in and circle them around the cart
- Teachers would return the carts in a pile of wires I had one teacher where this would happen every time she used them; I would have to send it back to here every time to straighten it up. This is an actual picture from 2002.
However now we have Netbooks, and a cart of netbooks could have the same issues but is less likely. Here are some advantages of a cart of netbooks.
- Increased reliability
- 6-10 hours of battery life
- Wireless connectivity is better
- Small size
I do like using netbooks for classroom teachers 6-8 for a class of 25 students seems ideal. However, you do have the set up time issue but not as much as laptop carts. One really cool thing about the netbooks is the portability, you could take your class outside if you had the guts.
For me, I would choose the traditional computer lab. All the set up issues, connectivity and reliability and printing issues go away.
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