I spent the day in training, learning about standards-based instruction, assessments, and all sorts of educational goodness. It sounds torturous for most IT folks, but in fact I managed to get quite a bit out of it, especially as it will increasingly fall to me to bring assessments online and provide teachers with easy ways to use data to drive instruction.
That's not the interesting part, though, as this blog goes. Today, I left my MacBook at home. On a day when I would be online frequently, both for class and to keep in touch with the office, I just took my Classmate. I knew that I would be taking a lot of notes, working in groups, keeping a journal (this is actually a series of classes and we write each time about ways to bring classroom activities back to our schools), and beginning group projects. In addition to leaving my Mac at home, I also left a pen and paper at home.
I just had the Classmate. And you know what? It was totally effective. All of my handwritten notes were saved and I could pass around the tablet for others to use. A quick flip of the screen and I was typing in my journal and responding to emails. I haven't used the Classmate much recently, but I'm already back to touch typing on the small keyboard.
One snag came when I received an email from a principal who needed a file that I happened to have on my Mac. Note to self: load my document folders into Google Docs.
However, the small size meant that the Classmate took up less room on our table than everyone else's notepads and I could type, surf, write notes, or draw pictures.
While in tablet mode, I could launch an on-screen keyboard or use the handwriting recognition for inputing information into dialog boxes, but it's quite natural to just switch between the clamshell and tablet form factors.
Of course, the Classmates got its share of oohs and ahhs from my, well, classmates, but by the end of the day, it was just another tool. I just know that I won't lose my notes from today as I normally would whenever I use a pad of paper. The whole thing seemed completely natural. I was actually a little worried about my experiment, but I'm increasingly confident that not only do I only need a Classmate, but I just might work better with the Classmate because of its versatility. I'll post another update in a week or so on my experiment, but for now, I'm a very happy Classmate user (and my kids are happy to have my MacBook in the family stable of computers so there is a little less competition for laptops at night).