The demise of Netbooks – what are the implications?

I read a post from The Guardian yesterday entitled ‘Sayonara Netbooks: Asus (and the rest) won’t make any more in 2013‘. I know that the iPad has had a profound effect on the computing market and we probably all should have seen this coming. Looking at the stats of US sales presented in the article, I can see why manufacturers have decided to cease production and perhaps put their focus into the tablet market. For schools however, this decision has major implications for those who had chosen to run 1:1 programs with Netbooks as a cheaper option compared to running with full priced PCs or Macs.

At my school, we have netbooks in our K -4 classrooms on a 2:1 basis. Obviously, the demise of Netbooks is going to have implications for the program we are running. While I have already been thinking that tablets are a more user friendly option in Junior classrooms, the management of these devices leaves a lot to be desired. We have a class set of iPads in our Senior School, and Natalie, one of our Library Technicians manages them. It’s no easy task. The recent Volume Licensing agreement that now applies here in Australia has made things easier, but you still need to be adding and synchronising apps across multiple devices and updating apps and the operating system whenever new updates arrive. It’s time consuming and requires someone with a dedicated eye on it. Classroom teachers have enough on their plates and really don’t have time for the management of devices like this. There’s no doubt that tablets are designed as personal devices and not as shared ones.

I’m interested in taking a look at the Microsoft Surface, especially considering the fact that it has a USB and SD card ports. A device that enables easy transfer of whatever has been created on it is a lot easier than the current iPad set up that requires you to use cloud services or to email a finished product to another computing device for access. Looking at it’s price point (Windows 8 Pro will cost $US899 for a version with 64 gigabytes of memory, and $US999 for a 128-gigabyte model. Read more: makes it a very pricey option, coming in close to the price of Macbook Air at $1099.

I don’t think we’ll be needing to be making any decisions until later this year, so I’m hoping to see further developments in the Tablet market that might make them more user friendly both with price points and as a shared device, but I’m not pinning too many hopes on that. Maybe I’m wrong in my assessment of tablets as shared devices being problematic. If there are schools out there finding this an easy process, I’d like to hear from you and find out what you’re doing that might make our management of these devices easier.