Preparing the arrival of the netbooks and the whole pilot within your school is a whole team effort. There are many things to taking into consideration. That is why it is important to take a “whole school approach” and involve not only the netbook teachers in your school, but also work in consultation with your school head, school's management team and the ICT coordinator. It is important that the work with netbooks and their use in school will become part of the school’s general ICT strategy.
We recommend that you discuss the following issues that should be integrated into your school’s general guidelines for the computer usage:
- Determine which email facilities students can use in and out of school (e.g. only the school's email account, and/or a Gmail account, Yahoo account, Hotmail account etc.)
- Determine your policy on online chatting and social networking sites (e.g. MSN Messenger, Skype, Facebook etc.) – whether you decide to allow them, restrict them or ban them completely
- Determine your policy on the use of digital games in and outside of the classroom - whether you decide to allow, restrict or ban commercial games and/or games for learning
- If your school has a policy involving a limit on the amount of downloading and printing per teacher/student, ensure this can be adapted to allow for a higher amount for pilot participants
- Determine your policy on battery charging, i.e. will students be expected to come to school with a fully charged battery every day?
- Establish your policy on storage and back-up for devices, i.e. student’s responsibilities versus school’s responsibilities
- Develop guidelines for students around safe storage, transporting and taking care of their netbooks
- Determine how you will manage students leaving their netbook at home. Will there be a penalty for this? Will the student be asked to share a netbook with another student for the day, or be given non-netbook tasks?
- Ensure you are familiar with Acer's technical support policy for your own and students' netbooks
You should also consider the following technical issues in conjunction with your ICT Coordinator where appropriate:
- Revisit your school internet/network Acceptable Use Policies (or similar).
- Where necessary extend it to cater for this netbook pilot and home use
- Determine required network security and bandwidth scalability (wireless and/or wired)
- Determine technical support facility (help desk, support space, repairs)
- Establish devices storages and security spaces
- Ensure compatibility with school Student Management System, Virtual Learning Environment, Interactive White Boards and other peripheral technologies
- Review electrical system capability (power supply, surge protectors, recharge station, amperage and load balancing)
You might also discuss with your school head whether you, and the rest of the netbook team in your school, could get some extra free time from your other school and teaching duties to plan your pedagogical netbook project, and to support each other in their tasks. This is a novel peer-learning possibility within your school.