Monday, June 2, 2008

tt4t_040 Asus eee PC increased battery life on the way…

It’s Monday, June 2nd, 2008 and welcome to episode 40 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. Like many of you the spring semester is now behind us and I look forward to working on some new projects that I have just not had the time to get to. The problem is things were suppose to be slowing down by now and that has just not happened. We are installing new computers for faculty and in some of our classrooms and labs over the summer so that work is just now beginning. Plans are to have everything installed and tested with plenty of time left to explore some new technologies this summer.

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The mini-laptop movement intrigues me as an affordable way to provide mobile computing to students inside and outside the classroom. In the past, in my opinion, laptops have been too heavy and too pricey to implement on a wide scale. Short battery life and access to slow wireless connections have been additional problems. There is news today that the new eee PC 901 is scheduled to be out this summer with the new Intel ATOM based processors that are suppose to require less energy to operate. Preliminary reports indicate a 4 to 6 hour battery life for this new model. While that is much better than the current 2 hour battery life in existing models it is still not enough to last an entire school day. A link is provided in the show notes to an article about the new eee PC Model 901 if you are interested in learning more.

eee PC 901 – new model with Intel ATOM based processor

Asus Website

The eee PC mini-laptops offer a laptop computer that weighs less than three pounds for approximately $550.00 If purchased in bulk this price should be available for less than $500.00 Still not the $200.00 mini-laptop that was originally envisioned by the one-laptop-per-child group but things are definitely getting cheaper and new models are offering less compromises on features. This price point is less than half-price of many existing one-to-one computing initiatives.

One Laptop Per Child Website

We have recently tested the eee PC 8G model with Linux and are very pleased with its capability. The number one complaint I read from others is that the keyboard is too small. Newsflash, this is a mini-laptop model! I do have large hands and the keyboard is a bit cumbersome to use but I can adapt for small amounts of typing. If I want to type for longer periods of time I just plug-in a full-size keyboard to one of the three available USB ports and have no limitations. For those that say the screen-size is too small I can plug-in a VGA monitor and have a full-size screen also available if I so choose.

For now I am anxiously awaiting the new eee PC 901 model with the improved battery life. The 8G model gets approximately 2 hours of battery life and that has really limited my use of this model. The form factor for me is in the sweet-spot of not being too small as to have to use two-fingers to type and not so large that I would leave it in the office when I go to meetings. It is also rumored that a Wi-Max option may be available in the near future that would improve wireless speeds. That is if Wi-Max is available in your area. Currently Wi-Max is not available in this part of rural Illinois. If anyone has the new eee PC model 900 or gets the new 901 model I would love to hear your experience with this laptop. Please leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog to share with others.

As I mentioned on the last show I will be attending the National Educational Computing Conference better known as NECC in San Antonio, Texas at the end of this month. If any listeners are planning to attend NECC and would like to meet up at this event please drop me an email at and we will see if we can arrange a time and place to meet while in San Antonio. I would love to meet fellow listeners/readers face-to-face to compare notes so please let me know if you are interested.

NECC 2008 San Antonio Link:

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is a new text to mind-mapping tool that works really well especially when used in conjunction with a SMART Board. This is a Web 2.0 open-source service that is used to create a simple mind map from text. When you visit the site on the left-hand side of the screen there will be a text box with an example. To use this site simply erase the content in the example text box and type in the information you would like to have displayed in mind map form. When you indent the text using the Tab key the indented text will become a sub-category of the text above when the mind map is created.

Text to Mind Map Tool

This text to mind map website is a very simple tool but as teachers know the more ways that we can present material to students the better chance there is for students to understand and retain the information. Mind maps are great tools for visualizing student conceptual understanding and can be used by teachers to quickly assess student understanding of a topic by simply glancing at a student created mind map. Having things represented by both text and in graphic form also reinforces the information presented using multiple pathways. Students can manipulate the mind map using the interactive SMART Board and this gives the students an added layer of interaction and kinesthetic learning. Here is a hint when using this site with the SMART Board. There is a new feature released this month called Freeze Map that when checked allows the user to move the mind map entries. You can use your finger to click and drag the content objects and place them in the way you would like to have it displayed on the SMART Board. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

That wraps it up for episode 40 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning

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