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."
MIDDLE SCHOOL CHROMEBOOKS
By: Darren Lewis - Lead Principal
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.
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.
Since 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.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Click on a question to reveal the answer.