Saturday, 19 May 2007


So far no one had actually taken a thing like this into the classroom or early years setting. I was very keen to see what the response might be by actual practitioners when I had the opportunity to describe the 'Freetheteacher' project to them.
This opportunity presented itself when I was given an half hour slot at a Local Authority 'Early Years Update' event. My audience was 160 practitioners representing childminders, nurseries and foundation stage settings across the region.
The problem was, without a device, all they had was my word for it and a few pictures on a Powerpoint slide. I chased and hasseled Akhter to get me a device delivered ASAP. Luckily they had a sample that they lent me a few days prior to the event - I would still have to wait for my brand spanking new one to arrive though.
A strange thing happened when I booted up the sample M84A, within minutes it blue-screened and died (just like the H70 had before it). This continued (as it had with the H70 before). This too was met with bafflement by the guys at Tatung until one of the guys punted an out of the box speculation when he said, "You don't happen to have a powerful RF (Radio Frequency) transmitter nearby do you?" I replied that I wasn't sure but would check this out. I walked through to the IT technicians' room and asked the question. It was met with, "Have been out in the carpark and looked what's on the roof above your desk?" Out I went and sure enough, there is the largest mobile phone transmitter installation positioned directly above my head when I'm working. Could this be the source of the blue-screen-of-death? More investigation would be called for.

Armed with my rugged, bump-covered, harnessed up, sample M84A and with my Powerpoint eportfolio. I stood up in front of 160 early years experts. I envangelised, I described my journey and I appealed for their support on the next leg of the voyage. It went down well. There was a queue of eager, interested parties at the end of my spiel. Four schools were prepared to order one (or even two) pretty much on the spot!

This brings me to the point you've probably all been waitng for. How much? I was being sold the M84A with the bump cover, harness, spare battery and charger for a princely sum of £770. A price not to be sniffed at by the average UK primary school. A price that probably needs to come down a bit before schools might realistically take this on. Surely the ideal situation would be for there to be one of these in the hands of every adult. Not at £770 though!

Four more days to wait until it arrives and I can really get my teeth into it...