Chromebooks and teaching and learning

bookOur school district has delayed the further roll out of a program for Chromebooks at several different grade levels, and on our community listserv, the back and forth about this move (which amounted to a savings of about 0.12% of the overall district budget) has been vigorous and very thoughtful. Here are a few of the comments, this first one from someone with kids at our district who works in a neighboring school district:

[Our county’s schools] took an amazing step this year in not only purchasing hardware but providing training to teachers and implementing software that helped students stay organized and be productive while helping teachers keep track of assignments and give feedback. Bringing about this sort of change in schools in a single school year is truly impressive. Which makes it all the more unfortunate to see this program cut short…

[My] daughter found the use of Chromebooks and Google Apps to be a great tool. They help her stay organized, make it easy to work on assignments between school and home, and give her access to useful resources. Difficult to see next year working as well without those benefits.

Distributing existing Chromebooks into more grade levels and classrooms is not an ideal solution. Technology is used differently when students have access to it every day. It becomes part of the classroom routine, and teachers can regularly plan lessons and activities that incorporate it. Consider how convenient our phones are and how they have become a part of our daily routine. They help us to be more efficient and productive. They allow us to interact and respond faster. Some tasks we simply couldn’t do without our little gadgets. Now imagine if there was one phone on your block and you had to sign up for a specific time to use it. Not as useful, huh?

…One thing I’m sure of: Teachers are the most creative and industrious people I know. We may be upset about a useful program being cut, but I’ve no doubt that with whatever technology is available to them, [these] teachers will be doing their absolute best to help our kids learn.

And here’s what a teacher had to say about this cut:

[My] students benefited from the first phase of the Chromebook rollout. I benefited as least three days a week [my students] used the Chromebooks. They wrote paragraphs and essays and could share them with other students for peer editing. They took quizzes using Google Forms. They studied vocabulary using Quizlet. They conducted research using [various] databases…the Chromebooks bring a new level of engagement to the classroom.

Chromebook use far outweighs taking a class to a computer lab. First of all, trying to schedule lab use is never easy. It was so difficult two years ago that I did not use the computer labs at all.  Also the desktop computers take a while to log into. Chromebooks take less than 20 seconds…By using the Google Classroom application, I could hand out and collect assignments and make comments to give feedback. I almost never made copies this year. Knowing that I can incorporate Chromebook use any time adds another exciting facet to my teaching experience.

Another teacher made this statement:

I couldn’t possibly…put into words how the Chromebooks have changed the way I teach for the better. 75% of my class either is or once was ESOL and 25% are students with IEPs. It has made a world of difference for these students in writing, and the Chromebooks have enhanced all subject areas in some way. I couldn’t possibly list all the ways we’ve used them this year and how students’ learning has increased dramatically as a result.

Nice to hear right from the folks that implement this kind of program and also to hear some of the same themes that I have discussed in this blog: The efficiencies added by this use of technology; the ability to stay organized, for students and teachers; the access to all kinds of important resources; the potential for differentiation; the increased engagement of students. Let’s hope in the future our district gives more credence to these kinds of programs, given the benefits to teachers, students, and parents.

I got the above picture here.

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