The Use of Ultra Mobile Personal Computers in the UK vs. US

How is the US using Ultra Mobile Personal Computers differently than the UK? Turns out, they're not.
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from Educators' eZine

When I came to write this article, I had a problem as my brief was to write about how the USA and the UK are using Ultra Mobile Personal Computers (UMPC) and what the differences are. The problem I had is that, while doing the research, it became very clear that we are not doing anything differently.

Both of our countries are at the start of a journey. UMPCs offer a chance to provide a cost-effective way of filling the one-to-one agendas that our respective governments have created. When you look at projects going on in the USA and UK, you see that we are doing similar things at the same rate. The projects often start small with a number of UMPCs being implemented as a fore runner to providing all pupils with one-to-one computer access.

For example, I came across the Centerville City Schools project that recently brought the RM Asus miniBook eeePC from RM Education. The project was a good example of implementing UMPC devices. Roger Nefzer, Technology Coordinator (for the District) had this to say when asked how they used these new devices: "We use these workstations with our students in our elementary, middle and high school classrooms. There are three classrooms at our high school that have 30 eeePC machines in each classroom and one classroom with 15. The rest of the eeePC machines are spread throughout the District in multiples of 5 in various classrooms."

Often we want to forge ahead and move towards that goal of one-to-one computing, but we need to make sure we can walk before we run. I asked Roger what he had planned next for the UMPC project.

"Most likely, in the future, we will purchase the 10 inch screen model with a larger hard drive and Windows instead of Linux," he says. "We hope to eventually use this type of device in a one-to-one program with our high school students and even possibly with our middle school students. In addition, we plan to use them in our elementary classrooms for students to have a more flexible learning environment than traditional desktop computers or thin clients"

What they have done at Centerville schools was a perfect example of what schools across both the UK and USA are starting to think about. We are in a unique position as the UK and USA are moving at same the pace so no one country is leading the way. A situation we have not found ourselves in for a while.

We need to make sure we connect and share good practices with schools, both in our own country and in others as well. We need go out there and speak to other schools about what we are doing. Go online to the Tech Learning forums and talk about what we are doing with UMPC devices. Let's make sure we embrace this opportunity that has presented itself.

What To Think About When Implementing UMPCs:

  • Start off small, for example a class set.
  • Think about support of your UMPC devices.
  • Look at the infrastructure of your school network to see if it will cope with devices being connected.
  • Provide training for staff who will be asked questions about it.
  • Evaluate existing problems with current devices and see what you can change when you expand that will solve those issues.

Russell Dyas is a IT Professional, Education Technologist, blogger & public commentator on ICT in education. He has gained a professional reputation from being a Manager at EduGeek.net the leading website for ICT support staff in education. You can found more information on Russell Dyas at http://www.rdyascv.co.uk.

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