Question: Are laptops durable enough for school use?
The IT Guy says:
Depending on the laptop model purchased, my answer would be a definite YES. Laptops are increasingly being designed with school users in mind. No model is indestructible (although some versions used by US troops in the Iraq conflict looked pretty rugged) but the fragility of laptops has definitely changed in the past several years.
Several computer manufacturers have created laptop computer lines specifically designed for educational use. Apple Computer's iBook line is in this category. The state of Maine was so impressed with the iBooks, they purchased 1 iBook for every 7th grader in their state during the 2002-2003 school year. This purchase continued in 2003-2004, over 36,000 iBooks have been purchased and are in use to date in Maine. For more information, refer to www.apple.com/education/products/ibook/.
Windows-based laptop computer manufacturers are also producing more solutions customized for the education marketplace. Intel has an excellent 3-part discussion of factors educators should consider when buying laptops for the classroom and laptop labs on http://www.intel.com/education/emergingtech/mobile_laptop_labs.htm.
"One to one computing" will likely be a catch phrase in educational computing circles in the years to come. Accessibility has historically been an issue with computers in schools, but falling prices and increasing processing power is changing this situation in many districts. Laptops are still expensive, but handheld computers like the Dana by Alphasmart are even more affordable but still powerful alternatives. The Center for Highly Interactive Computing in Education is a great source for solutions and research findings about handheld computers in the classroom.
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