Monday, October 16, 2006

The Next Classroom PC

Ever since the interview I did with Larry Cuban, I've been intrigued with the idea of understanding what a computer would need to be like to be broadly assimilated in to the regular school classroom. I've started a mailing list to discuss this topic, which you'll find here. As soon as I can determine that there is enough interest to justify it, I have purchased the domain name, and could start a website devoted to this cause.

But first things first. Here are the attributes that I believe the next generation classroom PC will need to have:

  • It should be able to be easily adopted by teachers (that is, it must be simple and easy to use)
  • It should be low- to no-maintenance
  • It should be low-cost
  • It should be acceptable to technology directors and support staff
  • It should provide user-authentication
  • It should have accountability tracking in some form
  • It should provide a data-storage for users that is independent of classroom and schools, extended through the lifetime of their education
  • It should allow the classroom teacher to see the screen display remotely
  • It should be able to be updated remotely
  • It should be able to have applications added and upgraded remotely
  • It should have audio and video input capability
  • It should have video-conferencing built in
This is obviously a quick list, but I want to give this discussion a start. Let me know what you think! Please respond here or on the email list.

For more history and background on this topic, see here.


  1. Is this different than the goals of the $100 laptop project?

  2. Well, the biggest differences I see, Tom, are that 1) it doesn't have to fall into the same financial or physical dimension categories as what is now being called "The Children's Machine" (it can be more robust), 2) it can use a wider variety of more demanding software, and 3) it should be positioned to be acceptable in schools where there are an increasing number of policies regarding authentication and accountability.

    That being said, I wouldn't want to detract at all from "The Children's Machine" project, but I'm thinking that it won't be versatile enough for the regular classroom user. For example, Google Earth has been an incredibly popular program with educators, and I think it significantly enhances the interest in geography. I'd want PC 2.0 to be able to run that. And to run Audacity for podcasting. And to do video editing.

    Make sense?

  3. Steve, I'm thinking about how convenient it would be if classroom computers could all be upgraded remotely. Think of the time it would save which would translate of course to financial savings.

    Andrew Pass

  4. Anonymous11:56 PM

    That sounds like an ideal classroom. I would love to be able to not take my students to a lab like this but to have this be my classroom....big difference.

  5. After a very interesting lunch I had last week with Bonnie Plummer of the UC Davis Extension, I think I would add that the next classroom PC will also need some ed tech application that is so compelling that you just can't imagine not having it in the classroom. What would that be? Video-conferencing with students in other countries? With teachers with specific specialties? With book authors? Or maybe something completely different...


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