The school where I tutor gives new students netbooks which is handy.
Throughout my youngest's HS sojourn it was agonizing to watch her trundle off to school buried under an overflowing backpack, a bag of swimgear, a bag of extra books, and usually an armful of some other project or cookies or what have you. For some few classes she had the choice of a hard-bound book or CD.
I suspect we will eventually go the way of completely having a cloud device (like iPad, kindle or other android), but there are issues.
There are advantages:
1) Same advantages as a netbook, but even more convenient.
2) Battery life is good and getting better.
3) Support utilities accessible (like blackboard).
4) Educational utilities (calculator apps, word processing,etc)
5) No need for any books now.
6) Cost is cheap, but not THAT cheap -- still coming down.
7) Keeping stuff in the cloud is *really* handy.
1) If you do forget (or break) your device, others are not likely to loan one to you.
2) Targets of theft.
3) preventing book theft is a problem.
4) buy-in is not cheap, but could reduce paper, shipping and storage costs.
Biggest issue is there needs to be curriculum development around this functionality - which requires teachers, etc. to buy into it and make the effort to see how it can fit into what needs to be done. Teachers still have a crucial role - and in some sense the essence of that role is preserved - but the way that essence is manifested will radically change.
There are a number of things that are almost immediately useful. A small sampling would include:
There are lots of video things that could be useful, if teachers made the effort to actually build a curriculum.
Khan Academy is outstanding of course, as is MIT's Open Courseware, but there are also courses and materials spread across the web on various topics. And there are some amazing videos put out by Yale, et. al.
My oldest who is brilliant at math had trouble with linear algebra her first semester at college. This is normally a trivial course, but for some reason it's notoriously difficult at her school. For the first time in her life she was making Cs and Ds in a math course. She quit going to class and instead took classes through MITs Open courseware - but then took her normal tests at her regular college and her grades jumped back up to what she was accustomed to.
Here's some miscellaneous stuff for illustrative purposes:
Harvard CS http://cs50.tv/2007/fall/
Anatomy at Berkeley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9WtBRNydso
Thermodynamics at Yale: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb8LqNlHeLY
Special Relativity at Stanford: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAurgxtOdxY
(taught by Leonard Susskind!)