In last week's issue of Science, Andrew Zucker, a senior researcher with the Concord Consortium, a Concord, Mass., nonprofit that studies the use of technology in schools, and Daniel Light, a senior scientist at New York City–based Education Development Center, Inc.'s Center for Children & Technology, pointed out that the falling cost of technology is helping computers get a better foothold in the classroom but cautioned that the impact of classroom PCs is still unknown. Developing countries such as Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela are eager to invest in the technology because they want to cultivate a better-educated, tech-savvy future workforce, the researchers add.
Although netbooks may be half the price of regular laptop PCs (the holy grail is to produce a $100 computer), costs are a concern because the computers themselves comprise only about one third of the overall cost to implement a network of classroom PCs, Zucker and Light wrote. Other outlays include software, teacher training and technical support. The researchers cite one recent estimate that puts the annual cost for a netbook implementation at more than $400 per PC.