Hi all, I’m a new poster to the odeworld blog. My name is Peter Marshall and I’ve recently joined the ode team as a software engineer and was prompted by Mr B to blog a couple of observations that peaked his interest. So here goes!

I saw an announcement today for another £100 laptop for school kids, the “Elonex One” http://www.elonexone.co.uk that will be running the Linux OS. This also comes hot on the heels of the Eeepc from Asus http://eeepc.asus.com/uk/guide.htm and they’re both very impressive.

I can also say, from first hand experience, that there is a lot of interest in these small PCs from my children and their friends. The interest to own one is being driven by the children; it doesn’t appear to be a parent led thing as in “lets buy a PC because its educational”.

I am also seeing a significant change in the way my children use and collaborate on work at school.

I think its beginning to turn into a movement driven by and for the student.

The government and schools always thought that they had to provide email for pupils. I distinctly remember there were government led initiatives to provide an email address for every school child (they failed). It became apparent it was unnecessary. No school child uses their school email address (even if they have one). They have always sourced their own.

The same has happened to documents and files. Schools thought they had to provide networks and file space and protection and all kinds of administration and support for children to upload homework files etc. Well, they don’t. Not anymore. My children use Google docs to collaborate (IN REAL TIME) with their mates to create work.

They also don’t bother to use the school network anymore. The school network naturally restricts how much space they can use to store work and students moving from the mindset outside school of web hosting services that freely grant upwards of 100GB of space to a school model that perhaps gives them 50MB and you can see why.

I can see that moving forward the only service the school has to provide is high speed access to the internet. Both the Asus Eeepc and the Elonexone devices come with full wireless internet access. Aside from any mindless controversy I think schools will very soon start to provide blanket wireless access points for pupils. In fact, it’s inevitable.

My children have made videos of their friends explaining all about pathogens for their biology homework. They upload the videos on to Youtube or Vimeo and present them in school (the school has not blocked Youtube…yet!).

Before the lesson most of the class has seen the video and rated or commented on it (because the link was shared using social networking sites in a peer to peer fashion). All this happens long before the teacher saw it in class.

What does this imply? That the teacher in this instance has become the slow link in the learning chain. And it will take a fundamental shift in thinking to make them once again an intrinsic part of the learning loop going forward.

From the students perspective a lot is changing very fast and the technology is naturally appearing to facilitate it. Demand and supply. I can see children progressing and branching in their own direction at such a pace I fear schools and the education sector are just getting left behind.

These small incredibly cheap PCs come with Linux, access to open source collaboration tools and wireless access and I think they are going to cause some big changes.

Go and see the video here: Biology video about Pathogens from Pierre Marshall on Vimeo.