An Acer Chromebook

"Schools described how Chromebooks have enabled them to put devices and learning applications in the hands of more students. As a result, teaching and learning are enhanced through greater collaboration, engagement, and access to learning materials."

IDC Study

By: Darren Lewis - Lead Principal 

final KCS has experimented with a number of different approaches to providing timely access to technology to our students. We've tried providing students with traditional computers in labs, laptops (both Macintosh and Windows) and tablets. Each of these approaches has presented both challenges and opportunities.

Computers in Labs have been the norm in most schools for more than 20 years. Students would move from their classes to the lab to complete research projects or to write essays. Back in 'my day' the school had a single computer in a locked room. Access was strictly controlled, and this and the teachers' unfamiliarity with the technology were significant barriers to its use. While labs are likely to continue into the future (if for no other reason than to provide more powerful computers for things like video editing and dedicated Information Technology courses), they don't offer the immediacy and ubiquity of access that is required.

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Laptop Computers seemed to be the answer to many of the challenges of computer labs. A number of years ago, School District 23 went down the ambitious road of providing each student in their system with a laptop. They found however, that the costs of supporting the technology were significantly higher than they expected. Attempts to lock down the computers were less than successful, battery life was sometimes problematic and the teaching staff were confused by the range of configurations in the system.

iPads or Tablets seemed to be a promising solution. They're light, start almost instantly and have good battery life. Unfortunately, they also lack keyboards for writing tasks and the promised range of free online ebooks remain a work in progress.

DSC 0026 2Since 2011 a new type of device has entered the market - the Chromebook. Effectively a light, low-cost laptop that boots directly to a web browser (Chrome). Some have dismissed them as underpowered, but studies such as the one I quote above have found that they are uniquely well adapted to the education market. Their low cost allows for the purchase of more devices and greater student access. Additionally, from a management perspective they provide significant advantages over other devices. If I want students to have access to a keyboarding program for instance, I am only a few clicks away from every Chromebook having access to the new software. Software updates are automatic and require little or no staff involvement.

The KCS Plan will put a Chromebook in the hands of each student in grades 6-9 starting this September 2016. We look forward to the many opportunities that better access to technology is going to provide us at KCS. We are especially happy that we've found a way to move forward without either increasing fees or requiring parents to purchase a computer. Learn more in the FAQ section below.


Click on a question to reveal the answer.

  • Will every student have their own Chromebook or will they share?

    Yes, each student will be provided with their own Chromebook at the beginning of the year. They will continue to use that Chromebook throughout the year.
  • Will we have to pay for the Chromebook or purchase it ourselves?

    No, KCS will provide a Chromebook to each student in Middle School. There is no cost to the student or family.
  • We would rather purchase a different computer for our child, can he/she use that instead?

    One of the advantages of the Chromebook is that we are able to manage them remotely. We can, for instance, install software that is going to be used during a particular class on the morning of the class. Also, we have found that there are significantly more support issues with student provided devices (such as issues with printing or connecting to the Internet). Our existing policies allow all students at the Middle/High Schools to use their own devices and these policies will continue - this means that if you have concerns or feel strongly that you would rather students use their own laptops, this will remain possible; however, Middle School teachers will build lessons with the expectation that students will use school-provided Chromebooks and students using their own devices may require some adaptation to the assignment.
  • Can the Chromebook be brought home?

    The intent of the program is that like any other learning resource (such as a text book) the Chromebook can be taken home. However, it will need to be brought back to class for the next day.
  • What happens if the Chromebook is damaged, lost or stolen?

    If the Chromebook ceases to function in the normal course of use (there is a hardware failure), the school will arrange for the repair or replacement of the device at no cost to the parents. If the student loses the device or it is stolen, the cost of a replacement is the parents' responsibility. The same applies if the Chromebook is damaged due to student neglect. This policy mirrors our existing textbook policy.
  • What happens in Grade 10?

    KCS will be making a decision regarding Chromebooks for Grade 10 during the 2016-17 school year. We are considering a number of options including expanding the program or having the students bring their own devices.