Power for the pupils

6th January 2006 at 00:00
By buying the tough, cheap, Dana portable, Hope primary has put ITC in the hands of all, says John Galloway

"Digital divide", "one-to-one access", "ubiquitous computing" - these are all often-heard terms. But they are easy to say and difficult to do anything about.

Hope Church of England primary, in rural Shropshire, a small school of 51 pupils, with a mixed intake, has begun to find an answer.

"Some pupils have their own laptop and some only a PlayStation," says headteacher John Rowe. The solution he found was to buy a trolley loaded with 30 thin, tough, light Dana portables from Alphasmart. These have a small screen and keyboard but offer "a flexibility we wouldn't get with laptops".

The Danas are sufficiently robust to be taken out into the playground and when the key stage 2 class were studying their local supermarket, the machines were taken to Sainsburys to offer instant calculations on the cost of a healthy picnic. The pupils used the spreadsheet in Documents to Go, which works with MS Office documents, with a template loaded on to every machine through the management software.

When the Danas are returned to the trolley, one cable recharges and synchronises the Dana with the storage area on the network. They also offer wireless connectivity.

Overall the school is pleased with its solution to the problem of getting resources into the hands of children who otherwise might miss out on them. It is, says John Rowe, "A short-term quick win."

Alphasmart Stand W60 www2.alphasmart.com

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