Student WiFi devices

Including laptops, netbooks, smartphones, handhelds, etc.

It is an exciting time for technology and learning! The staff at New Castle High are looking for ways to integrate technology into the classroom, stressing the importance of 21st century skills in today's world. As part of that endeavor, we are encouraging students to bring devices to school capable of WiFi internet access and word processing. These devices would include such items as:
  • laptops - great for all applications with the greatest functionality, but far more expensive and often heavy
  • netbooks - essentially laptops with small screens and slightly smaller keyboards (~90% the size of a standard QWERTY keyboard) at much lower prices - nice for reducing weight and expense
  • hand helds (iPod touches, iPads, smart phones, PDAs, etc.) - small and easy to carry, but more difficult to use quickly as a word processor or web browser (external keyboards can help), expense varies and some devices require a service contract (smart phones)
What we are recommending:
This process is in its infancy. Teachers and administrators are still working out the kinks in how things will be done. For now, here is what we currently propose:
  • Students who already own these tech devices are encouraged to bring them to school. Be sure they are well identified, and students should be vigilant about keeping them secure.
  • Students who do not own a device, but are interested in acquiring one, should start educating themselves on what is available. Keep an eye out for holiday specials.
It is our hope that by the 2011-2012 school year, most of our students will have their own devices, with which they can access the web, use collaborative tools (like Google Docs), create and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, and even spend time creating multimedia projects. (Note: Multimedia projects require a more powerful technological device, usually a laptop or netbook.)

Brands, Suppliers, etc.:
There are any number of manufacturers that are making items that will work well for students. While we are not recommending any specific brand, here are some things to consider:

Hardware Considerations:
  • Buy from a reputable dealer, this may be retail store or online retailer. Be sure you are familiar with their warranty and return policies.
  • Consider the "computing power" required for the student. All new laptops and netbooks will be adequate for the basics of web searching and document creation. (Additional processing power may be needed for extensive video editing or large scale image editing, but this is beyond what students will need for our high school uses in most cases.)
  • Consider the battery life of the device. Most students can get by with 3-4 hours of battery life, but if your students wished to do extended computer work before and after school without recharging, this may require additional resources.
  • If the student is planning on using something smaller than a netbook, consider acquiring an external keyboard if available to improve speed of data input.
Software Considerations:
  • All students at NCS will have a "Google Docs" account at . This account will allow students to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, email, calendar items, etc. as long as the student is online (able to access the internet.) These tools will meet all the software needs for most students. These tools are also very powerful for collaborating and sharing information with others. (Additional Google Accounts can be created for free at if there are other home users that wish to use these tools.)
  • An off-line productivity suite that students will find very helpful (if they don't already have Microsoft Office on their device) is Open Office, which is very Microsoft-Office-like, but free. This software can be downloaded from . The advantage of this software over something like Google Docs is that it does not require the user to be online to utilize the tools.
Last modified: Monday, December 23, 2013, 3:32 PM