In the fall of 2009 when our Arts Educator 2.0 project purchased netbooks for the 40 teacher-participants, we felt pretty innovative. Give each teacher a tool that would let them get online and collaborate/document their work with their groupmates, anywhere, anytime there was free wireless available. Even though the deployment wasn’t flawless, the feedback we got from both teachers and tech directors was overwhelmingly positive. People were genuinely happy to see art, music, and theater teachers getting technologies which are often distributed to teachers of tested academic subjects such as math, reading, social studies and science. The innovation we’ve seen with the netbooks has been amazing!
Our iPad pilot (being blogged here) has a lot to do with our considering purchasing iPads for the AE2.0 teachers this coming fall. Being proactive and trying out the technologies for ourselves first will go a long way to making the purchase one based on evidence rather than fad. It will also make deployment into our school districts much more smooth. Although, if popularity and trends are any indication (See Mashable’s article on the decline of netbook sales), it looks like the iPad and the new flurry of tablet devices are going to make netbooks obsolete in the near future. The iPad and its clones may truly be the tool for classroom computing in the future!