We bought our eldest son a netbook to use at school. His primary school is not likely to move to anything resembling a 1:1 laptop program before he’s in high school and he has enough learning issues to warrant limiting his use of pen and pencil. He has a very supportive teacher who is prepared to support us in adding this into the mix of a school with pretty traditional classrooms. But I’m hoping that having a digital tool at his disposal will help to boost his productivity in the classroom, enable him access to tools to help offset some of his learning difficulties and keep his learning on track.
My son loves computers and is fascinated with operating systems and sub-folders but tends to see a computer as a pastime, an outlet for fun rather than a focussed tool for achieving things. I thought that going with the Windows 7 default OS that came with the Acer Inspire netbook that we picked for A$450 would be too big a distraction in the classroom so I wiped that off and installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix instead. There is no wireless access in his classroom so the software options all had to reside on his hard drive and be easy to navigate. The Netbook Remix does that very well.
If you are not familiar with Ubuntu (as I wasn’t prior to playing around with it during this summer) then it takes a little getting used to. But it so simple and logical – Aaron picked it up very easily and intuitively.
So, he has a clean, very fast running netbook that will give him word processing, an excellent file system for his documents, a nifty webcam that can take pics and video and I can add any number of educational programs (like Tux Paint, Tux Type, Marble, View Your Mind) from the open source Ubuntu community. It works well on wireless at home and because Netbook Remix was developed with the screen of a netbook in mind, you don’t get the minitiaturisation effect we get on our netbooks at school running an XP desktop. I’m hoping that in time, this helps Aaron in his classroom endeavours and the netbook can become a digital repository of his learning.