Toys for Teachers

toysAll I want for Christmas is...

some really great teaching equipment.

Have you been a good English language teacher this year? Have you been learning and growing, communicating, aiding, facilitating, coaching and generally imparting your knowledge of this wonderful language?

Good, you deserve a treat and so you can have a quick chat with Santa, I'm gonna tell you about the most important thing I bought this year.

As I've mentioned often, he's the number one love of my life.

Actually, I confess, when I hit the "create a new post" button I thought I'd begin this with a poem, an ode in fact, but realized that

The Little Blue Guy
I traveled from shore to shore
visiting each and every store
wasn't sure what to do
I needed to find you.

My back was killing me
my laptop, you see
weighs a ton!
teaching with technology's
so much fun.

Had a quick look

you're the size of a book
I fell in love:
you fit in my bag like a glove.

You're shiny and new

you're beautiful 'n blue
I immediately knew
what to do -
I bought you.

well, Puh! That's simply just too corny.

You'd probably prefer to just read the statistics, get the hard facts and data and get told how to go find your own.

Rightie, then.

The Little Blue Guy's real name is an Acer Aspire One.

He's one of a genre of netbooks currently on the market. Mine cost €399 a couple of months ago however shortly after purchasing, noticed that Amazon had him at €50 less. Hmmm... you live, you learn. I never reckoned that buying electronic equipment would be cheaper online but there you go. (Links below.)

In general, Netbooks range from €299 to €699.

At the lower end of the price range they are pre-installed with the operating system Linux. Unfortunately, despite what all the techie geeks say I'm going to tell you that if you're not a SuperTechie and don't have a SuperTechie spouse, in the house, then don't go there.

It's simply too time-consuming to figure out how to make the video functions work or utilize some of the great free downloads available. I know, I tried and ended up going back to the shop to get the Acer.

If you're a regular ELT (English language teacher) currently in the process of moving over to TwIT (Teaching with Technology) and you'd like to have your own little guy, you'd be better off going for a model with XP.

And don't worry, those abound. Here are two good, short videos, one's cute marketing propaganda and one's a review of four models .

The Acer shown by the guy in this video uses Linux, again: look for one with XP pre-installed. The main reasons, as you probably gleaned from my poem and the vid, for using netbooks to teach English in the classroom/ in-company are:

they are portable and practical
  • light (1.8kg - 3.1kg)
  • small (7" - 10")
and in many cases they
  • come with more memory than a normal laptop (120-160GB compared to 80GB of most models).* -be careful, some only have 8GB: not useful if you want to download and save videos.
  • are often more powerful than a normal laptop

Do note that these machines aren't meant to replace your laptop or your desktop computer at home. If you spend hours typing on one of these your fingers and wrists will end up hurting!

It's a mini computer, made specifically for infrequent and internet usage - perfect for taking into class, to training conferences if you're a teacher trainer, for showing videos, playing mp3s & podcasts, recording your students and sharing presentations you've made or grabbed from slideshare.

Some downsides you should also consider:
  • no DVD or CD slot
  • you will need to purchase or download free software separately.
  • the touchpads are small (best to get an extra mouse to go with and if you want to walk around the classroom while controlling what's going on the screen, get a 'presenter' mouse.)

Want Santa to come on down the chimney? Get the banker of your household (if you have one) to have a general browse around at what's available in your city. It's a good idea to compare prices - also come on over and take a look at my Amazon "toys for teachers" pages where I've presaved some good models



USA and rest of the world
p.s. if you want your operating system to be in English and your country allows importation of computer goods, best to go with a purchase from UK or US.

On The Little Blue Guy, I've put the following useful freeware:
  • documents, presentation tools, pdf, spreadsheets: open office
NB: Most free software comes with options to set the language of preference.

To grab stuff from my stored resources:
Any questions?

Do you have observations or experiences you'd like to share with us about the model you chose and how it works? Don't hesitate to click on the green comments at the bottom and type in your message there.


p.s. Lindsay Clandfield's new blog is up and he's got a list of six more gift ideas for teachers, they're over here.

2 Responses to “Toys for Teachers”

  • Anonymous says:
    December 16, 2008

    Karenne, your choice of a toy for teachers is spot on the money. Great review, with helpful videos too. Thanks!

  • Anonymous says:
    January 20, 2009

    You really use something called "gimp"? As in "The Gimp"? Very bold of you to say so in public!


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