A few years ago when I was working at Poudre School District in Ft. Collins, CO we looked at Chromebooks for our Middle School students. At the time I was teaching tech and History classes and as the resident “Who would like to test this out?” guy (they actually called is DIPS!) I was asked to trial some. At the time I was completely against them; too limited, too restricted and they (and here is the key) wouldn’t do half of what I was doing in class. Why was that? Well, prior to the trial the district had made a big push for two platforms Office and Google. Now with the later, Chromebooks are a dream, but with the former…not so much. As you’ll know from reading other posts I am a BIG advocate of OneNote Classroom Notebook Creator (among other MS products)…best thing for a classroom teacher since chalk! But, not on Chromebooks. OneNote online just doesn’t have the functionality. The district ended up staying with PC and it worked out just fine.
So, fast forward to last year and a new school, this one is, or has been until now, strictly Apple. We have had iPads (1:2) from EC to Grade 5, 1:1 iPads from grade 6 to 8 and MacBooks from 9-12. Thankfully when I arrived as the integrationist we also got a new tech director who has very similar ideas to mine, especially in regards to what is best for students. Seems that when schools hire tech folks that have been in the classroom they have a much more empathetic view as to what goes on in the classroom, go figure! We both saw a need for students to be more productive, better managed and to stop thumb-typing five page science labs! Hence Chromebooks.
Fast forward one year and one ordering cycle later and we are now in the middle of rolling Chromebooks (CTL NL6’s) out to two different grade levels: Grade 8 (1:1) and Grade 5 (1:2). After a year of trying to manage iPads it is incredible how easy it is to adjust and control the Chromebooks. The Admin console allows for such easy administration, especially if you can focus on separate grade levels or division levels. I’m still getting into the nuances of managing the devices, and any suggestions or tips are always appreciated!
Next post will be an update on the progress for both students and teachers. Wish us luck!