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I'm interested in your thread about laptops.

We've recently received our next batch of laptops for teachers and found them a lot more trouble than they are worth. We cannot create a reliable build which enables them to be used on the internet at home and connect to our network at school. As a result we've told staff that they can either do one or the other, not both.

We did a survey last week of our students. They come from across Norfolk so are a good mixed sample. Nearly 90% of them have a computer at home with internet access. 75% of them are now on Broadband. Instead of bringing laptops in with all the problems this inherits, they just bring a pen drive. Job done! We've also set up secure email accounts for them so that they can send work home electronically too if they wish.

We are about to do a pilot with a group of schools and Norwich City College to use Blackboard as a cluster. Blackboard are interested in schools using their system and by collaborating with a group of schools we've managed to get a really reasonable price for it. Hopefully this will also help students and teachers to carry on their work at home.

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The pen drive (aka flash drive and memory stick) is catching on in the conference world too. Five years ago I always took my laptop with me to conferences at which I was giving a presentation - and so did most other presenters. Now I just take my flash drive, which can contain everything I need to be able to run the presentation independently of what is installed on the local computers. One sees fewer and fewer laptops being lugged around by presenters these days.

I can store the whole of the English language version of the ICT4LT website (which I manage) on my flash drive - which is a useful backup when the local Internet connection goes down or runs too slowly.

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