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Doing 1:1 the right way?

Although announced earlier this month, the Fresno Unified School District has been getting a fair amount of exposure in the blogosphere recently for introducing 1000 Asus Eee PCs into its classrooms. The laptops will be shared among students in classroom sets and paired with a backend storage model allowing students to build "digital portfolios" that follow them from kindergarten.

Although announced earlier this month, the Fresno Unified School District has been getting a fair amount of exposure in the blogosphere recently for introducing 1000 Asus Eee PCs into its classrooms. The laptops will be shared among students in classroom sets and paired with a backend storage model allowing students to build "digital portfolios" that follow them from kindergarten.

While this model obviously doesn't provide every student with a laptop, it does make the little PCs accessible frequently to a wide range of students and, more importantly, includes an infrastructure that transcends whatever tool students might use during their 13 years in the district to create digital content. In fact, I think the digital portfolio piece of this story is more interesting than the rollout of the Eee's. According to a writeup in the Fresno Bee,

In the old days, a student's portfolio included drawings, essays and poems written on paper, and art creations such as ceramic sculptures. Parents often saved their child's work in a folder or large envelope, causing the larger creations to get folded or ruined.

With this technology, Madden said, a student's portfolio will include everything a student writes and saves in the district's computer network from kindergarten to 12th grade. Because the laptop has a camera, students can take a photograph of their artwork or make a video of their school project.

Thus, the small, flash-based hard drives used in devices like the Eee or Intel's Classmate are not a limitation for students who can store and access work on the servers. Similarly, in settings where the laptops are not available (existing computer labs, for example), the portfolios will still be available.