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Computer for use in lessons

(25 Posts)
TeenAndTween Wed 01-Feb-17 13:42:58

The school is in discussion with us regarding our y7 DD using a word processor in class for note taking and general work. She wouldn't use it for maths but possibly eventually required for all the traditional academic subjects.

Does anyone have any recommendations?

We think it needs to be
- lightweight & robust
- fast start up times
- able to run MS Word

Our elder DD used something from y10 onwards but had slightly different requirements and technology has probably moved on now.

Also, any comments on the logistics of use?

Scarydinosaurs Wed 01-Feb-17 13:45:17

I've found tablets are better. Get her a battery pack or a super long charger cable. Be prepared for the wifi to be rubbish. I'd highly recommend using Dropbox to share with all her teachers too.

TeenAndTween Wed 01-Feb-17 15:50:31

In what way better? (We haven't moved on to tablets in this family yet)

Scarydinosaurs Wed 01-Feb-17 16:40:07

Quicker start up/stop time. Don't need charging as regularly. You can do everything on them you can do on a laptop but MUCH lighter. Hulking a laptop everywhere is a massive hassle. I've taught kids with laptops/tablets for years and tablets are much easier.

I don't suppose you know much about the IT department? They should be able to network it so that all her docs are uploaded automatically to her school profile and sync her emails.

Scarydinosaurs Wed 01-Feb-17 16:41:05

And sync her to a printer!! That is the most important thing. If they make noises about that, buy one! Let her keep it in one place at school and set it up so that she can print everything out. That is the single most important thing, tbh.

TheSnorkMaidenReturns Wed 01-Feb-17 16:46:25

Won't the school provide it? My DC uses one provided by the school which links to school wifi and is maintained by school IT. He is able to print out his work at school, or email it to himself to print off at home.

TeenAndTween Wed 01-Feb-17 17:06:20

Thanks both. The school won't provide, but that isn't an issue for us. It's more about having something that works for her day to day. I think things will need to be printed out and stuck in her books and I can see this being problematic whether it is done at school or home. (Currently some worksheets are stuck in upside down by DD, so I'm thinking better done by me at home).
She's reluctant about it at the moment, something else where she appears different / less good I think. And we need to work on the typing (school are helping).

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 02-Feb-17 14:30:12

It is worth checking what the school use because when it comes to exams she will have to use their actual equipment rather than her own personal one. Therefore it would be best to get the same so that she is used to what she will be working on in exams.

(Exam Invigilator hat on here!)

TeenAndTween Thu 02-Feb-17 14:34:35

All That is true.

However I think I have already decided she will be using Word because of the spell check / grammar check / table layouts etc, whereas when she finally does GCSEs it is likely to be WordPad (at least that's what DD1 used) without those features.

I will check what operating system and word version they are currently on though.

NotMeNoNo Thu 02-Feb-17 14:44:00

School have "provided" a very old laptop for DS in yr 8. He uses Google docs or a memory stick to transfer work to teachers or I think can print in SENCO office. It's a bit clunky. THE memory stick is secured to a big bright lanyard and named. We also purchased typing tutor software (Unikey IIRC) and he mastered touch typing in a couple of weeks. School are understandably careful about Internet and network access. If we were providing it I'd look at a light weight netbook type with MS OFFICE. Some classrooms don't have a convenient power point and DS was too shy at first to ask for extension lead.

sashh Thu 02-Feb-17 18:55:10

HP stream 11, you can get them for under £150 and they come in blue, purple and pink.

Light with reasonable battery, start up etc. I'm a teacher with a couple of disabilities so light was a major factor.

I wouldn't go for a tablet, she needs to learn to type and tablets don't have the right keys and are usually at an odd angle for typing.

Get her an account on google, box or drop box. Personally I like google drive but I also use box, you can sync the laptop to google drive so it updates and she shouldn't lose work.

If I have a student (occasionally a full class) using a laptop then the handouts that would normally be glued in to a book are sent to the student, by email or via Moodle/VLE/Edmodo.

Get folders set up for her to save work in.

It's also a good idea to begin every document with the date in year/month/day order, so for an English class today she might save it as 20170202Enlgish. Putting the date this way means that they stay in date order even if you amend the file another time.

Get opoen office as well as MS word - the maths editor is much much better than MS. It is a free download.

Finally if she is getting this for a disability/dyslexia you can buy it free of VAT.

roseshippy Thu 02-Feb-17 22:29:09

Stream 11 has a slow CPU.

SSD which is good, but it's very small and would drive me mental.

I would look at a used thinkpad x-series.

This ticks the boxes:

i5, 8GB RAM, 180GB SSD.

This one would actually work quite well if you want something cheap:

(offer £80?)

A 120GB SSD is around £40 and would make it startup more-or-less instantly but if you're not technical might not be worth the hassle of reinstalling Windows.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Feb-17 22:37:25

DS used a laptop for all his exams and lessons (except maths) from year 8 onwards when he was assessed as needing it due to problems with writing. He either used the school computer or a laptop. If your DD has been assessed as needing to type, how come the school aren't providing the equipment?

Agree with PP she needs to get used to whatever she's going to be using in exams. So for that reason I would definitely not recommend a tablet - typing on a glass surface is no practice for typing on a normal keyboard under exam conditions.

SuburbanRhonda Thu 02-Feb-17 22:41:19

Sorry, in terms of logistics, I have no idea! The school dealt directly with DS about this - I didn't get involved at all because it was the school who assessed him, so they sorted out all the technical matters to do with saving and printing his work, as well as ensuring he was all set up as he should be in exams.

NotMeNoNo Thu 02-Feb-17 23:11:36

I did ask DS what he thought - he said a full size or separate keyboard is best. To be honest there is a long time between year 7 and GCSEs, there will be plenty of time to check what will be allowed and there will probably have been several MS office updates by then!

sashh Fri 03-Feb-17 06:33:40

Stream 11 has a slow CPU.

Well that's a bit of a false flag, it's going to be used for word processing not gaming.

It's also going to be carried around by an 11 year old.

TeenAndTween Fri 03-Feb-17 07:54:13

Thank you all, that's given us plenty to think about.

We can afford to buy the laptop so that isn't an issue for us. I suspect that if we were less well off they'd find the money.

She's definitely not going to be gaming on it! but is (and will stay) petite, her sister has had some back issues due to heavy bags so we definitely want light. She walks to school, but has a locker, but when it has to come home it needs to be manageable.

Interesting point re typing on a glass surface. I was assuming even if we
got a tablet it would be with a separate keyboard, but that adds to the weight I guess.

I'll point DH at your suggestions. We have Lenovo PCs at home so he might be keen on the think-pads.

NotMeNoNo Fri 03-Feb-17 08:48:26

You can get very lightweight portable wireless mouse/keyboard - I use them as I have to carry my PC around. But for school a light notebook will be ideal. DH has a Lenovo and it's so light sometimes he's not sure if it's in his bag! I'd get that insured if going into school though.

dataandspot Fri 03-Feb-17 10:59:32


How do you buy without paying VAT if your child has dyslexia?

Clavinova Fri 03-Feb-17 11:49:32

A number of the schools up here have introduced Apple iPads for every student - would one of those be suitable? The case looks like this one:
I know several teens with this ultra-light Logitech keyboard - it comes in more colours elsewhere:

roseshippy Fri 03-Feb-17 12:52:42

"Well that's a bit of a false flag, it's going to be used for word processing not gaming. "

Gaming is more GPU than CPU. The Stream 11 really does have basic specs - only 2GB of RAM (4GB is minimum in my view, given the choice I'd go 8GB, but it's not essential), and the CPU is only around 1/4 of the speed of even an old i5. And the 32GB of hard disk (sorry SSD) space is very problematic.

I just stuck my X230 on the kitchen scales and it weighs in at 1.50kg, so not really different from a Stream 11 (1.28kg). It's also cheaper than the Stream 11, being used, it's not something to worry about carrying around compared to say a new Surface Pro costing £1200.

My DS's school uses iPads but his SENCO (after he joined) said to use a laptop so basically the iPad is useless and I think just used for playing games on.

NotMeNoNo Fri 03-Feb-17 14:39:40

I agree, I guess iPads in school are mostly used for interactive , pushbutton type activities like my-maths. For actually writing text a QWERTY keyboard with proper keys is 100% the most efficient way and she may as well learn to type (assuming no motor problems doing this) as it will be a skill she needs for the next 10 years of education.

I told DS if he learnt to touch type it would be seen as a ninja skill by everyone.

itsawonderfulworld Fri 03-Feb-17 19:28:16

We got DS a Stream and he was very happy with it to start with, but it died within months. First the screen went - they replaced this as it was under warranty, but it meant he was without a laptop for over a week, at a time when he really needed it (mock 13+ exams). Then the entire thing died, just a couple of weeks after we got it back. PC World/Curry's, where we bought it, said that these cheap lightweight PCs are really only for recreational use and can't cope even with regular word processing etc. For context, DS was pretty much only using it as a Word processor as it was too slow for any online research etc - he continued to use our home computer for that.

We ended up spending a fortune on a lightweight "proper" PC as he isn't able to lug around a heavy 15" screen one (there is a physical reason why he needs to use a laptop). Not ideal, but he'll hopefully have it all through secondary school (and yes, we've insured it to the hilt). At least PC World gave us a credit for the useless Stream (as they'd advised us to get it in the first place!) which we were able to use against the new one.

itsawonderfulworld Fri 03-Feb-17 19:31:11

No idea why PC World ended up as a link - certainly didn't mean to advertise for them!?!

sashh Sat 04-Feb-17 08:54:48

How do you buy without paying VAT if your child has dyslexia?

You fill a form in saying it is for the exclusive use of a disabled person. The tax office can check. If you buy from a supplier that deals with disabled people on a regular basis there is often a price with and without VAT.

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