Two years ago, during my OMAET program I projected that in ten years computers as would be largely embedded devices, that voice recognition and head’s up displays would “come of age” enough so that all one would need is a very small storage device with the transmitters, I/O and storage media.* This past year IBM was already experimenting with “personality modules,” basically a bootable transportable hard drive. So instead of carrying around a laptop with it’s LCD, keyboard, battery, and powersupply, and then having to manage which version of ones data is one what device, one basically would carry a PDA sized device that holds everything. That’d be cool for business (or teachers) but not necessarily for students.
Actually, as far as my lab is concerned having more flexibility would be a step in the right direction. I have everything from 20 students to 35 students to 40 students at a time. When I was working with one of my groups of 20 I was thinking that it’d great to break the tables up into smaller groups so that they could work together versus the way the computer lab is locked into. Wireless laptops with moveable carts so that each class session can be physically arranged to work for the students would be great. Alas, up until this year my district had “outlawed” wireless routers and they require that all purchased technology be “secured” with a $99 military-grade lockdown device. So, I don’t doubt that I’d run into a whole host of difficulties configuring the lab for flexibility. It’s hardly a genuine “pin-in-the-sky” vision, but it’s doable (if i had the needed 40K I’d need to switch the lab to wireless laptops). JBB