Laptops in the Classroom: Cheaper, Better, Faster for Students and Teachers

It’s an amazing concept. Laptops used in today’s classrooms are markedly cheaper, perform immensely better, and look far sleeker than their counterparts a decade or two ago did. did a little math on the topic, and found that the eMacs used in its classes now cost one-tenth what the Apple II+ computers did back in 1981.

The comparison gets more ridiculous when you consider what you got for your money. The Apple IIs didn’t even have a stinking hard drive! The eMacs come with 40 GB. The Apple IIs had 64,000 bytes of RAM, the eMacs 256,000,000 bytes. As for software, we’re talking BASIC-based AppleWorks for the Apple II. For the eMac, there’s the whole package of entertainment programs-iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes, iDVD.

Even since 1999, reports, Apple notebooks have improved in price and quality. A 2005 iBook cost half the price of the iBook in 1999. And the 2005 laptop has a four-times faster central processing unit, five times more memory, and 12 times more storage space in the hard drive.

Add this technological acceleration to the dynamic of the Internet today, which represents a much more vast information network, both for searching and for storage. Plus, handheld and portable digital devices, such as cell phones and MP3s, are having just as much effect on how kids, and their parents when they have time, interact with the world and each other.

This pace of change and the massive benefits already being delivering from it are a boon to everyone hooked into the Digital Age. But like any innovative technology, from television to nuclear energy, dynamite to the wheel, this digital information technology can be a danger if it’s not grasped, monitored, managed, and regulated.

For students, teachers and school administrators can help with this massive undertaking, basically by updating the curriculum to catch up with new technology. Students are already familiar with IM, picture phones, chatrooms, Web site development, and file sharing. Teachers need to tap into this experience and use it to fuel productive, educational uses in the classroom.

By Matthew Brodsky

Monday, January 09, 2005