A 1-1 school and what to buy.

The school is looking at the feasibility of a 1-1 computer-student program.  Being the Technology Coordinator means I have to look at the issues behind the scenes.  I started by looking at the platforms and OSs that would be the optimal for a classroom environment.  A Windows laptop would be the best option software wise.  Everything the kids need to use is available.  The problem is space in a classroom desktop.  A big issue with laptops is breakage, hinges and keyboards are vulnerable and our repair staff is me.  I also have a feeling that the laptop is going to become a curiosity soon; the tablet will be the primary portable computing device.  So I look at tablets.  iPads sure are pretty but they do not run Small Basic, Kodu, Geometer’s Sketch Pad or a whole bunch of other software that the school has licenses for.  The same can be said for Android devices.  I do have some new little Dell laptop to tablet convertibles with Windows 7 on them.  They are small, very portable and have good battery life but Windows 7 is not a good option for touch screens; icons are too small for fat fingers and it really is not designed for a touch environment.  They are also $650 each, a bit too steep for what we want.  Windows 8 seems to be the obvious solution but that is two years down the road and its capabilities are a major unknown.  Except for the programming language issue, which can be solved by using a computer lab, I am willing to bet there is a work-around for the needed software.  Some other major issues are the ability of the device to project through the present school projectors and to print to school printers.
I think the only logical answer is going to be cheesy little non-touch screen laptops with a VGA port and Windows 7.  I say cheesy for cost and replacement reasons.  The kids spend 90% of their computing time with a word processor which does not take a great computer, all of the programming languages will work and most of the software they use is not touch friendly anyway.
What I really would like to do is stick Window 8 on one of my little convertibles.  That might be the best of both worlds.  It would still have a keyboard and mouse pad for accuracy and a touch screen for tablet mode.  Might prove interesting.


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