Simply put, the Google PC is any PC that will soon be able to access the massive computing power of Google's servers, running network-based software at speeds far greater than allowed by puny Pentiums....We've taken the initiative, since our tech guys are fond of low-cost software. Elsewhere, though, Google is bringing its technology directly to teachers.
At Capital, we use a scaled-down version of this setup. Our computer labs are full of dummy terminals, screens with keyboards and mice that run software from the network server. They have no hard drives, so they're cheap and relatively fast. The Google PC goes a step beyond, so schools wouldn't even have to host software on their own networks.
In October, the company posted an online guide to provide instructors with ideas on how to incorporate the applications into their curricula. In November, Google invited about 50 Northern California teachers to spend the day at its Mountain View headquarters to learn more about the advantages of the program.The gap still exists, but it's rapidly shrinking as governments and foundations broaden access to wireless internet, or the more traditional tubes. Where's your school on the road to techno-topia?
Google plans to host similar programs in other parts of the country as it tries to recruit more teachers to proselytize its online software.
Some students are already learning about the advantages of Google's word processing program, which enables people in different locations to collaborate simultaneously or view and edit documents at different times.
Palo Alto High School junior Danielle Kim said that flexibility was particularly helpful when her debate team jointly worked on a presentation earlier this year. But she also saw a downside to Google's approach. "It requires you to have Internet access," she said. "What happens when you are in a place that doesn't?"
Google expects that issue to become less of a problem as high-speed Internet connections become as commonplace as electrical outlets. Wireless access would enable information to be delivered to cellphones and other mobile devices as well as PCs and cable boxes.
Part I, online academies
Part II, the Google PC
Part III, homeschooling
Part IV, rapid growth
Part V, Olympia goes virtual
Part VI, Microsoft's "School of the Future"
Part VII, multi-touch interface technology