Netbook Update

September 25, 2009 § Leave a comment

With a delayed delivery (23 days), our netbook (L4L) project took a rather significant ‘respectability’ hit – however the team have delivered a strong response in terms of service and product.

With the units delivered late our team worked morning and evenings to create and install the image and manage and modify the group policies to be effective student learning tools. We still have software to add including the ebook reader, pdf documents and textbooks.

Feedback has been positive from students and parents alike. So much so the project is to be extended to Year 11 students on a revised scale reflecting the timeframe and licencing/warranty costs.

Our next step is to visit Brune Park and to refine our assessment targets for the project focusing using Fisher scores and the number of students their reaching projected grades. A more detailed outline our image / AD / group policies will follow in due course.

(PS – apologies to anyone that had to read such a poorly written article – but I was determined to write a post before the week was out.)


The Laptops have Arrive for Some

April 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

For all of those schools looking at 1-2-1 solutions then this Teacher TV video is essential viewing. With our IT Manager and Governor, I went to visit Arnewood School this earlier year and must say I believe the video further contributed to my support for this approach.

‘see how the scepticism amongst parents disappears as the students enjoy using the laptops, demonstrating an increase in creativity and enhanced thinking skills. Further gains also seem to derive from home learning, by bringing the school and family closer together in a new kind of learning partnership.’

This week I met with our Headteacher to finalise the business model for managing the project. We are working on a 2 year model for Yrs 7 and 8, at a lower TTP (250)  to be paid to over 24 payments, followed by a slight more powerful / expensive unit (350) for years 9, 10 and 11 to be paid over 3 years (32 Months period). As the proportion of netbooks within school increases so the need for bespoke rooming descreases. A quick look at the numbers is essential.

Hardware for a room is approximately 450×31 = plus, plus the infrastructure to support them, disposal, IT Network manager, technicians salary. Many of the additional costs also apply to a 1-2-1 solution so lets accept an approximation cost of £15,000.

We have 8 rooms in total, plus 4 IT learning areas of approximately 4-7 PCs (art, library, history and Learning Support). We refurbish at least two rooms per year, in some cases three. A total cost of between £30,000 – £45,000 per year. (£37,500)

The cost of 200 netbooks at £300 (Unit, Licences (£27), Insurance and Cover) £60,000.

If the school were to reinvest £37,500 a year into netbooks books and ask parents to pay the remaining costs, parents would be expected to make a contribution of less than £5 a month and the parents could retain the product at the end of the cycle. In years 9, 10, 11 this figure nonly rises to £6 as despite the increased unit cost, the payment period has increases by 8 months. These costs will of course fall as the market develops. We are now waiting to review Toshiba NB200 announced on April 22nd and compare it to the Samsung NC10/NC20. The debate now, will be on bettery life, with a full days battery costing a further £30-40.

Specs for NB200
• 10.1” widescreen LED backlight display (1024×600)
• Near full size tiled keyboard
• Up to 9 hours battery life
• Integrated mobile broadband and embedded wireless LAN
• Extra large touchpad
• 3D-accelerometer monitoring system
• Weighs from 1.1Kgs

The Netbooks are Coming…

April 13, 2009 § Leave a comment

Its not my title, but Mike Herrity’s, but I wanted to continue the theme of his posts. There are three key factors that are driving our decision on which Netbook.

1) Cost

2) Cost only joking, battery life

3) Operating system.

Costs are falling, battery life is improving, operating system (Windows 7) promises much. If you have been considering these same factors than battery life should have been a real concern if the unit is to be used throughout the school day. We BECTA published today that researchers at MIT have discovered that materials currently used in batteries can be manufactured in a way that considerably accelerates the passage of the charge-carrying lithium ions. The new design reduces charging times by a factor of 20 to 30 (as well as the ability to discharge) and will become commercially available, the team believes, in about three years.

So by the time we replace our first units from 2009 will hope to be down to just one factor, cost.


April 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

We were investigating a two year roll out for netbooks to students in September, targeting Years 7 and 10. We are now proceeding with caution as we are not confident that the reliability / technology ratio is robust enough, that battery life is long enough and that solid state drives are not to far off in the future. The dual core processes in the NB100s seem to handle almost all our school students and staff have asked for, including Sims. The second consideration is a possible leap to Windows 7 and the opportunities this new OS may offer. Importantly, this is not a launch we can do successfully twice? Yet we don’t wish to wait 12 months either.

Our initial thoughts were to offer a 3 year payment plan for a netbook for Years 7 students moving through Years 7, 8 and 9 (upgrading in Year 10 and 11) and a 2 year plan for students moving into year 10. Today we decided to scale back our plans to just Year 10 and here our thinking;

Improvements in the OS, battery life and product range will accelerate over the next 12 months. We want to get it right, it must therefore be manageable. We are expecting bumps in the road; ordering, installations, technical support which includes where this technical support will happen as well as warranty claims. Also how best to support teachers and vle integration. Working with one year group is again more realistic. Our client base mean we must be inclusive and our financial planning must be appropriate but also reflect our whole school curriculum plans. Science in particular need more IT access for students moving to the applied Science course and this will offset the need for an additional suite at £15,000.

So, we move towards our final phase of the project. The first summer half term will see the students report back about their experience with the Toshiba NB100s, and Skoogle training delivered by/with Digital Leaders. We will then reissue these to a Learning Support for a second curriculum test before we move into the procurement phase.

Finding a Space

March 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

A new space in required in school. The size of a classroom to support the 121 laptop/netbook project. It needs to be central, accessible and avoid bottlenecks of student trying to get ready for their next class. Another lesson today, apparently there are few things that aggrieve staff more than breaking a promise, having to co-share a classroom or losing a department staff area. So with this in mind we are still looking for a technicians space. I post a poll for you to cast your votes.

Then There were 5

March 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

Great news, are hard work, pestering and the arrival and deployment on NB100s has paid off. Today a futher five girls joing the DMGC and also the Digital Leader group. We have sorry very keen boys waiting in the wings but we had reserved a few additional places for the girls in College.

In developing the Digital Leader group, I was surprised by how few girls joined originally. If you are thinking of launching you own DL programme here are a few thought. We have a DL curriculum, which we are happy to share, but

a) do stress the design, digital media and art aspects of ICT

b) slant your ad towards a more neutral colours – our girls associated our blue floral/pattern as ‘blue for boys’

c) identify ‘positive girls’ rather than girls with talent and sell, sell, sell – otherwise how are you ever going to change the culture of ICT.

Arn’we impressed

March 11, 2009 § 1 Comment

Today, with one of our governors, network manager and vle coordinator I visited Arnewood School to learn about their Laptops for Learning scheme. I would sincerely like to thank David Conford for his welcome and openess and the to staff and students we met during the day. So lets put things in context;

The Arnewood School is a popular 11-18 mixed comprehensive school of about 1200 students. It is situated in New Milton, an attractive small town, south west of the picturesque New Forest and a few minutes drive from Lymington and the south coast.

Arnewood School are in their 3rd year of their ‘laptops for learning’ scheme and here is a summary of what our reconnaise team summised on our return in preparing for a move towards a 1-2-1 mobile (delete as appropriate to your school) learning tools or laptop or netbook or notebook.

A review:

A police presence in the front of school at the start of term to reassure the parents, dissolving away.
Price point – donation vs purchase scheme. Do you have a wholeschool equitable school policy or deal with parents yourselves directly.
The network must be stable and more than cope with the new load – future planning would require further investigation as the propgram develops. Failure of the network, even minimally will impact on learning and disengage students and staff – quickly.
‘Lapland’ or ‘servicing area.’ Size, central location, security, work space / staffing. Student ID system in place for  loans – swipe bar code? Two entrance / exit.
Battery life – short life versus extended life (cost) vs 2 battery system. 18 months batteries require replacing.
Screensize – 12” Samsung with Misco £250 – decision in May/June
Manufacture training –  eg Toshiba Trained – 3 days training – permits in house
Arnewood: Network Manger, 2 techinicians, 1 customers services / laptop.
Hamble College: Network Manger, 2 techinicians, 1 customers services / laptop. Deals with claims and warranty.
Consumerables – hard drives, memory, power cables.
Lockers – unnesscessary – only for PE.
Monthly inspections and termly health checks (technicians)
Police present outside school at the start of term.
Sticking to XP move Office 2007
Exchange units – potential spare NB100s – to use low value units.
Admin rights – for students to printer and wireless.Work with Year 5/6 in primary school.
Impact on Learning
Integration of the vle and teaching in a blended format
Students reported homework

So take what you can from this visit.

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