Nov 6, 2006

Asus R2H UMPC - in the classroom??

For those of you unfamiliar with the UMPC (Ultra Micro PC), it is a specification for a PC detailing size and functionality restraints. These will have a maximum 7" screen, wireless capabilities, touch screen, and run the TabletPC version of Windows XP. The Asus is actually a latecomer to the party, having several well established competitors on the market.

What the Asus has to offer that others don't is an aluminum case and built-in GPS. Being a farily small device, GPS is a nice feature. A car mounting option would be the perfect add-on for this device. It is finally being released, and I am very much looking forward to it becoming available locally. The reviews I read are quite positive, although some expected better battery times. Between 2 and 3 hours (depending on usage) seems fair enough for most people though. Other devices with solid-state disks and alternative processors seem to hold out longer, but at a substantial increase in price.

Now, many schools are preaching about computers in the classroom, although not much thought seems to have been put into the concept before its implementation. I see laptops all over the place in this segment, and rarely being used in any real capacity for educational purposes.

This is where I can imagine the Asus R2H (or similiar device) making its mark. These devices are small enough not to be in the way while, have touch screens, making them nice devices for note-taking (not all notes are possible by bashing away on keyboards), and they are also the perfect size for reading electronic books. Using Journal to create electronic notebooks sounds like an easy way for students to stay organized. Why this doesn't seem to have been noticed is beyond me, and the cost is not much greater than the common laptop with similiar functionality. Maybe what's really needed to get this ball rolling is for the students (or parents) to get these instead of a laptop. Once the opportunities become apparent to the schools, maybe they would make a move to take advantage of them.

Of course, teachers don't have to miss out on the excitement. From directly entering daily attendance, showing presentations, making notes on the presentation as something is being discussed, commenting student work... This options that this type of machine provide make it seems like it was designed for this type of work.

I have also come across interesting (and free) software that takes advantage of TabletPC's in the classroom called Classroom Presenter. It is based on software released freely by Microsoft (that doesn't happen every day). The software is still under developement, but shows a lot of promise. Other options also exist, and I'm sure this area will explode within a short time.

Asus R2H

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