News and Trends(21)

from Technology & Learning

Affordable computers, FETC highlights, social networking with Twine, and using Bookr for simple online slideshow creation.

Low-Cost Computers on the Rise

Ripple effects of the One Laptop Per Child Foundation's development of the XO computer (see review) continue to spread with the increasing number of affordable computing devices now on the market. In addition to the XO and low-cost offerings from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Intel, comes the $199 (after $100 rebate) Linspire Linux desktop PC available now from Developed by Linspire, Inc., makers of Linux operating systems, and PC manufacturer Mirus Innovations, the new device is equipped with 1 GB of memory, an 80 GB hard drive, a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, multimedia support, keyboard, speakers, mouse, a modem, the DNR software delivery service, and more. Missing: a monitor, which users can buy from Sears beginning at around $300 if they don't already have one. Stay tuned for continuing good news on the affordable hardware front.

FETC in a Nutshell

Trends spotted at the Florida Education Technology Conference in January include the following:

  • Spotlight on Science. In step with the nation's renewed focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math—as evidenced in "The Gathering Storm" report, the recent America Competes legislation, and other initiatives—a host of new science products were unveiled at the show. Discovery, Vernier, Adaptive Curriculum, Pearson Digital, and PASCO are among the companies rolling out (or soon releasing) new software and hardware offerings for schools.
  • Educator Portals. HP's new Teacher Experience Exchange joins Discovery, Apple, and others in providing a tool-stocked Web community to help educators network and share professional resources online.
  • Going Digital. Yes, textbooks are finally at the tipping point and presenting customizable, digital alternatives, such as Holt, Rinehart and Winston's new Teacher One Stop. Watch for a wave of growth in the coming year.
  • Low-Price Hardware. Laptops, thin clients, handhelds, and subject-specific tools—the watchword is budget-friendly. Watch for rev i ews and other comprehensive coverage in T&L in the coming months.
  • Simplification. Scaling back on features, vendors are moving toward clean and straightforward in their latest product designs. Word on the playground is that too many tools are still "boxed up in the closet" for lack of professional know-how.