(Posted by Fiona)
I have been watching the developments of touch screen technology with interest over the last couple of years. Touch screens make computers accessible from an earlier age. Very young children find the concept of a mouse difficult, as they can’t make the link between moving the mouse and the cursor moving on the screen. It makes much more sense for them to interact with the screen directly. Touch screen devices used to be very expensive, with tablet PCs and Ultra Mobile PCs costing around £800. This is now changing, and I have been looking at two devices which look very promising for 2 and 3 year old children.
The first is the Fizzbook Spin from Zoostorm, a netbook with a touch screen and stylus, whixh costs around £330. It can be used with the keyboard and mousepad, or converted to use as a tablet with the stylus. It is possible to use the touch screen with your finger, but you need to press quite hard before it responds. I tried it out with muy son aged 2 years 10 months, and after about 10 minutes he was perfectly happy using the stylus to navigate the Poisson Rouge website. He was really pleased that he could do it independently, rather than asking me to move the mouse to select what he wants to look at. Here’s a video of my son using the Fizzbook. It seems to be appearing 3 times at the moment, I’ll remove the extra ones when I work out what the problem is!
The second one to watch is the Eee Top from Asus, a touch screen desktop computer which is a bit like a mini interactive whiteboard with the computer built into the monitor. I tried one last week and found the touch screen very sensitive and easy to use. It comes with an ‘Apple’ style mini keyboard and mouse. It would fit very nicely in an early years setting, and costs around £380. There are larger models with more powerful processors, but I think the basic version is fine for schools. With the release of Windows 7, a touch screen friendly operating system, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more touch screen technology in the near future.