Sunday, May 25, 2008

One Term On

As term two has already started I feel it is really important to reflect on our first term with our Asus Eee PC's. I'm pleased to say that the novelty has definitely not worn off. In fact the enthusiasm for using the device has grown rather than declined. The biggest skeptics of the machines are now it's biggest advocates. Those whom preferred to write rather than type can now see the benefits of being able to reshape and edit their work. Those whom preferred to draw on paper are developing their creativity using the inbuilt Drawing and Paint programs. And those whom preferred to use their larger Windows based machines at home see the compactness of the Eee PC as a real convenience.

From a teaching perspective I am really impressed with the inbuilt Open Office Suite of software which offers everything that Microsoft Office does.
Mozilla Firefox and inbuilt connectivity to the internet is superb which enables seamless connection to our school Moodle and Elgg sites.
The web cam is a very useful and a well utilised piece of hardware.
The machines seem to be very durable and robust however a few screws have come loose and we have lost one keypad. Screen size is no longer an issue, solved by using zoom and the 'fn' ALT' option. Processing and storage capabilities are acceptable, if machines are kept clean and tidy.

Over all the Asus Eee PC is an excellent machine for it's sub $500 NZ price tag which enables creativity and the development of 21st century skills.

However, I have found there are a few things the machines can't do. Apparently Shockwave doesn't work on the Linux operating system, which means that there are a few interactive maths and language games we can't use. There also seems to be a bit of an issue uploading to some Web2 programs. I think this is due to a combination of low processor speed of the Asus, low internet bandwidth at school and lack of Linux compatibility with some Web2 program but I can't really be sure at this moment in time so I'll have to wait and see what happens when we improve our internet speed at school. Storage capacity is limited with the 4GB hard drive capability but I have been able to load and run additional software onto my machine including Gimp, Alice, and Google Earth. Obviously you are restricted to Linux Xandros compatible software which does limit your choices and while Alice is a viable option to Scratch (Windows based) for developing programming skills their seems to be nothing comparable to Garageband (Mac based) for music development

I've also been unable to print to our colour printer as apparently the printer doesn't have a Linux driver. And finally one that annoys the technician, when you upgrade software it upgrades the desk top icon file so any buttons and icons you have installed have to be reinstalled again but well you can't have everything can you ? not for $500 anyway.