What I've learned abou the classroom devices:
- The devices will come with a charging cabinet. I hadn't realized this. I guess I assumed that I would be locking up the devices in my closet everyday. I much prefer the cabinet option. I think that will make classroom management of the devices easier. The cabinet should also make it easier to keep track of the charging cords.
- I knew that the netbooks would use Wi-Fi to connect to the school network, but I had not thought that I would have to pug them into network at night for push updates. I'm glad this option exists. I don't want to spend 10 minutes of 1st period updating the software.
- I knew that the iPads would come with a video and still camera, but I hadn't realized that netbooks would have web cams. I don't how I might use them in my classroom, but it is something to consider.
For me, I think the most import concept when using these devices is to give students clear directions. Years ago we had a math computer lab with mac computers that the Geometers' Sketchpad program. I remember taking students to the lab and asking them to follow along with my verbal directions. I was exhausted making sure that everyone was caught up and ready to go onto the next step. I'm also sure that the students who were following the directions were frustrated waiting for the students who weren't. Now I'm much more likely to hand students typed out directions so that they can work through the activity at their own pace. I'd much rather give them an idea of how to get started and what their finished product should demonstrate.
I also think that students need a clear set of explanations about how to use the technology; are they exploring or looking up specific information. They also need guidance on when they can use it, when they need to set it aside, and when they need to put it away. In most of my graduate school classes professors expected us to use our laptops. Some didn't mind if students were off task, but others had very clear expectations for how students should be using laptops in class. I like the idea from one of the web pages that suggested that students close the screen when they would stop for class discussion.