Intel's Classmate PC laptops have gotten headlines for helping to give schoolchildren in developing markets access to computer technology since last year, but computer hardware is just one aspect of educational services the company has been pushing, according to officials.
The Classmate PC is usually connected to the Internet and has diversified sources of information for students, according to
Intel Technical Marketing Engineer Islam Abedel Halim. But for classrooms that do not have Internet connections, Halim said, Intel creates offline content for students in the language used in their country.
Classmates sell for about US$250, but pricing also depends on quantities being bought in a particular region, Halim said.
Showcasing the Intel classmate PC at the African ICT Best Practices Forum in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Halim said the PC was developed specifically to enhance teaching and learning.
But the laptop is just one aspect of Intel's education initiatives. Through the Intel Teach program, the company has trained more than 4 million teachers in more than 40 countries. It is committed to train more than 9 million teachers around the world by 2011, Halim said. He explained that with students using a Classmate, a teacher can make presentations, guide students' access to the Internet, deliver specific, controlled content and interact with students and parents.
Educational applications can be integrated with other noncomputing learning tasks, such as note taking and handwriting, by utilizing digital pen attachments. In addition, the laptop could improve the learning experience through the use of innovative, interactive content widely available worldwide as well as from local content providers.
Halim observed that the laptops, in conjunction with the software, can streamline many of the time-consuming activities teachers must perform in their day-to-day school activities, including lesson preparation, administration of tests and feedback to school administration and parents.
Computers can also bring together students and teachers in an interactive learning experience, according to Lila Ibrahim, Intel general manager for its Emerging Markets Platform group.
"We have seen students come alive with excitement as they discover the world beyond the walls of their classroom," she said.