Friday, August 6, 2010

The Net Book Decision

I have never purchased a non-Apple computer product. There, I said it. I'm one of those people. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just feel a little under qualified to select two net books for my class. I want students to be able to curl up in a comfy chair on my stage and blog/tweet about the day's events. I have heard tons if great suggestions from people I trust. Thanks to everyone that responded to my Tweets. What I really want is to hear from Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer and Asus

I feel this is what social media is supposed to do. I'm going to reach out to these companies on Twitter and see who can give me the best sales pitch. Twitter provides such a great forum for different companies, big or small, to reach out to a customer that has specific questions. If computer companies cannot sell me on their technology through technology, then I shouldn't buy their product. I'm going to need to make the same pitch to my school when they ask me why I chose the net book I chose. Why not use the same pitch that worked on me?  I'll tweet out the link to the post and see who, if anyone, responds to me. I'm hoping to get a ton of great responses from the various companies. I've followed all of the companies I'm tweeting, so if you are one of them, follow me and send me a DM. I would love to talk to you!

Net Book Needs

Price Range: $250 - $350
Wireless Internet Connectivity
Webcam for Skype

Those are my 3 criteria for the two net books. Students will be using them to keep running blogs of class and sending tweets about class topics. I need a light weight net book kids can easily pass around the class if needed. I hope you have products that meet my needs. These net books will allow my students to interact daily with the students of Van Meter, Iowa. We have some amazing projects in the works and I can't wait to share them with everyone once the school year gets started. I will be continuously blogging about my Blogger's Cafe and I hope to present this project at the MACUL and ISTE conferences in 2011. I feel this idea has a chance to connect students, teachers and administrators to others all over the world. Like most things, it only starts with one person with a passion.

Furniture Needs

The next part of my post is dedicated to the layout of the Blogger's Cafe. I want to create very comfortable space for students. I want students to want to be at the Cafe working every day and after school. I'm not an overall fan of the type of furniture that students are asked to sit in and work as it is, so anything comfortable would be a huge upgrade. I'm thinking about comfy chairs that students can relax in and use the net book. Lap top trays might be nice so students can keep the net book stead as the work in the chair. I'm not against a some desk and chair combos if they are comfortable. Student comfort is of the utmost importance to me.

Here is the stage in my room.

I would like two areas for two students to sit comfortably and blog/Skype/Tweet during class. Desks and chairs are all that I need. Do you have any suggestions? This is straight out of my pocket, so please keep that in mind when you make your suggestions. If you think you have some ideas, please feel free to post a comment or follow me @TheNerdyTeacher and send me a DM.

Art in The Blogger's Cafe

I have a couple of students that are eager to get their paintbrushes on the back wall. They have some cool ideas that involve authors using text tools. Example: Mark Twain with an iPod or EA Poe with a Kindle. I really want the kids to take ownership of the space. Maybe parts of the wall can only be painted after units are covered and the art needs to incorporate the unit objectives or goals. Hmmmmm. I'm thinking out loud here. Well, typing quietly and thinking in my head. ;-) I'll keep you posted on this one.

Thanks Everyone!

I have received tons of support and many kind words about my Blogger's Cafe idea and want to thank everyone who did. I would never have built up the courage or motivation to do something so radically different at my school without your support. I promise to keep everyone up to date one the process once it gets started. You are all as much a part of this as I am. Thanks again and I hope to read some of your ideas in the comment box.

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. Just because I'm curious (and you probably talked about this in another post...if you did, i'm sorry lol)But here goes:

    I think some technology is the classroom is great! I think it can help the students be more engaged and we as teachers can get a little more creative. All good things. (I'm sure there are more pluses I'm not coming up with) but the other side of it is that it's quite a distraction (at least for my students). So my question is: how are you using it so that it's less of a distraction tool?

    Ok, here endeth the novel :P

  2. Great question Catherine! I can see that it will be a small distraction at the start of the school year. However, once students are used to the set up of the class, I think they will tune it out. College students bring lap tops to class all of the time and students need to ignore the clicking and focus.

    The two students who will be using the laptop each day will need to focus even further on the class at hand because they will be responsible for posting a summary of the class at the end of class on the class blog and I will be able to review tweets to see the things that the other student picked out during the class discussion.

    I guess my answer is, there will always be some distraction in class, but I think the benefits of the net books in class outweigh the distraction issues.

    Thanks for the Q!


  3. How about bean bag chairs? Not expensive and very comfortable (if you're under 21, anyway).

  4. I'd say most netbooks will enable your learners to participate in the way you want. Your only requirement seems to be wireless acces and a webcam. The smaller the processor the longer they will take to boot up but once on the web they should be similar.

    Any problems will be related to your wireless network (speed of connection, therefore usability) and what your technicians allow your netbooks to access on the web.

  5. Wow! I just asked about the Blogger Cafe in Tweetdeck, then found a link to this post. Amazing how quickly the ideas have materialized! I am in love with the mural ideas; I think it is a great way to involve the students and take advantage of their artistic talents.

    What about throwing in a couch? Some round tables, a couch, and seating areas might be nice.

    I have an ACER for personal use. Under $200, came with webcam, MS office suite, and 2GB for storage. For the purposes of Skyping and blogging, ACER might work. Looking forward to hear more news about the Blogger Cafe in the following months!

  6. Use a Lenovo from IBM for my netbook needs. $250-online shipped in days, cam, mouse, speaker, mic, all integrated. Works great. Love the QuikStart option. Skype is great and my 6 year old can use it very well for her blog. Our district is piloting use in some schools. Why not use an iPad though?

  7. I've been really happy with my HP 310. Webcam is good with medium light. Battery life is a realistic 2hours with constant use. Great size with easy to hold rounded profile. Only downside is that screen bumpers aren't sufficient and has developed rub marks on the screen where touchpad is folded. Not visible when on though.

    Stay away from beanbags. They're comfortable for about 15 minutes, then you're looking for something else. Small individual tables might be a plus.

  8. It is good to see you want to use netbooks in your classroom! However, relying on a company's sales pitch is probably the least desirable way to decide on a computer. Rather, go to reputable websites such as PC World, PC Magazine, etc and look at their reviews. Your $250 - $350 price range pretty much leaves Dell out of the mix and it may be hard to get any netbook at that price due to the fact you will need a pro version of Windows to connect to a domain. If you don't plan to do that then your price is reasonable. Finally, and unfortunately, most companies won't spend time on a sale of just two computers. Just a fact of life!

  9. @Jeff

    I will do the leg work and look up everything that is suggested, but it never hurts to ask. HP responded in minutes to my tweet and sent me a review and a net book suggestion.

    Price range is always a little flexible and I've seen some around those prices. If I need to pay a bit more to get everything I need, then I'll consider it.

    If the other companies choose not to respond to my tweets, then it tells me plenty about their social media policy. Twitternis meant to connect people. If they do not want to connect to a potential customer, no matter how many net books I plan to buy, then maybe they don't deserve my money.

    It never hurts to put the idea out there and see who responds. Right now, HP has shown me they care about one teacher trying to make a difference in his classroom. That's good news to me.

    - Nick

  10. Be sure to check craigslist for furniture. People often give away couches chairs and loveseats because they don't want to rent a truck to move them or have noone to help them move. A buddy and a $20 uhaul and you might outfit the whole thing in one Saturday afternoon.

  11. This is such a wonderful idea and how great for you to be able to really create a great space for your kids to work!

    I have an Acer netbook and I really love it. It does just what I need it to. Skype on it, however is quite slow and a bit frustrating. I think that might be the same across the board...

    I have always had good luck with HP computers too.

    I can't wait to hear how this goes for you. Good luck!

  12. I have an Acer Netbook and so does my husband. We love them for Skyping, nonworking trips where we just need to surf the web, email and things like that. The librarian at my school bought some for students to look up books on library database and do research. All are Acer and don't have any complaints.

  13. Nick,
    How about some dish chairs? I picked up two for my classroom. WalMart had them for about $20 each. Target also has them (but they were more). You could put a small table next to the chairs.

  14. Okay, as far as furniture goes, I say you ask your students! They will tell you what they want. You could even send them out on a furniture hunting mission at local Goodwill type store and text you pictures of what they find and why they like it. I have a feeling if you gave them the green light to help you out, they would take it and run with it. Make it totally theirs!

  15. I have an Asus eee and I like it and our school district went with that brand too, but a more updated model than I personally have. Mine is Windows XP and the district ones are Windows 7 which runs VERY slowly on the netbooks and kids complain. They also installed a filter so kids could take them home so that might have something to do with the speed. It has a VERY long battery life which also typically means a trade off in processing speed.


Please post your thoughts here. Thanks!