Are you doing it right?
by +Jack West, Hapara Senior Research Analyst
Many school districts rolled out Chromebooks last year, and even more are doing so this year. Last fall, sales of Chromebooks eclipsed those of iPads in education. The cloud management, low cost, and cloud connection to Google’s suite of free productivity software make Chromebooks an ideal solution for education systems that would like to put computing devices in learner hands. A recent Gartner Research analysis states that 85% of all Chromebook sales are in education.
If you count yourself among the throngs deploying Chromebooks or if you are just curious about how to do so successfully, here are some tips from the experts.
Technology Integration Team Leader
Richland 2 School District, South Carolina
Three things to do:
- Give teachers their Chromebooks at least 3 months before giving students a device so that they have time to explore resources and feel comfortable with the features that are different from a traditional laptop.
- Provide teachers with ongoing professional learning experiences in small collaborative groups to allow them time to develop lessons and activities which are a fit for content and pedagogy (TPACK).
- Use a train the trainer approach and provide school technology coaches and mentors with coaching training.
Three things not to do:
- Don’t roll out devices on a large scale before making sure that your infrastructure is able to accommodate the devices (access points, bandwidth, and filtering). Be sure to try out devices in a smaller pilot to see if they’ll be a good fit.
- Don’t put the cart before the horse and focus on devices before deciding about your goals for the use of technology.
- Don’t make decisions in silos. Involve all stakeholders to get buy in before moving forward.
ICT Teaching and Learning Leader
St. Mark’s Primary School
Three things to do:
- Do Investigate and explore the vast opportunities of the web. So much can be achieved straight through the Chrome browser (make music with Soundtrap, edit photos using Pixlr, make screencasts using Screencastify, etc.)
- Do Educate staff, students, and parents about the slight differences from conventional hardware, for example the keyboard layout and shortcuts, the trackpad and the use of a two-finger tap for right-click, and setting up Cloud printing.
Two things not to do:
- Don’t forget to invest in the most important asset, the teachers, and their capacity to leverage the technology in their day to day teaching.
- Don’t think that substitution, technology for technology sake, or replacing traditional practices and tools with technology is enough. Giving students a Chromebook to replace mundane pen and paper tasks is like giving them chocolate coated broccoli.
My own review of Chromebook rollout blog posts from 2014 brings me to the same conclusions as my friends above. Student device rollouts, and Chromebooks in particular, represent significant institutional change. You must ensure the technological success with a strong internet backbone, ample wireless access points (enhanced by use of VLANS and web caching, incidentally), and a suitable replacement program. Equally important is the human change management, and this takes much more time.
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