Hunched shoulders? Back pain? Feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the world?
It’s not the world, it’s the new Chromebooks! The Chromebook 1:1 initiative launched this October, with pickup dates starting on the 23rd. The initiative will strive to connect students to the world around them, opening a world of learning that might not have been possible to reach before. The goal is to help students get a sense of social and personal responsibility while paving a way to life outside of middle school and high school.
Students are now expected to bring in their Chromebooks everyday, and already teachers have started to assimilate the new initiative into their curriculums. The opportunities that come along with the Chromebooks continue outside of school, as students have the option to bring them home and use them for educational purposes. Students are allowed to download apps, as long as they are in accordance with the Responsible Use Guidelines. The guidelines also state that students should have no expectations of privacy concerning their internet use. The district can and will monitor and track all activities on the Chromebooks. This initiative is not just for this year; students should expect to use the Chromebook they have now until they graduate. The program helps build both technology skills and responsibility. Another benefit is that Mt. Greylock has an insurance policy to cover repairs. Additional insurance to cover loss and theft can be purchased by a parent or guardian for $25.00 a year.
Chromebooks hold their charge for an average of one to two days, and while there are currently limited charging resources at school, the new building will be equipped with charging stations. During these first few days of the initiative, there have been issues with students forgetting to charge the Chromebooks or forgetting to bring them to school completely. With time, these issues will be ironed out as bringing the Chromebooks fully charged to school will become second nature. In the case of the Chromebooks being damaged, the students can bring the computer to the MGRHS media specialist, Eileen Belastock. While it is being repaired, students will be able to take out a loaner from the Chromebook cart in the library.
Kellie Houle, a ninth grade English teacher at MGRHS, commented on the success of the Chromebooks so far: “It was great be able to go one to one. Although we did have access to the Chrome carts, there were times that they were not available because other teachers were using them. I can now have the expectation that students can have their work typed instead of handwritten, because some students did not have access to that opportunity before the initiative.” Houle added to that, stating how she believes the Chromebooks will reduce disparities in students not doing as well in school due to their socioeconomic status. Many students were expected to be able to type up a paper at home, and some did not have that option. This resulted in late papers and students having to spend time doing it in school. It’s also a possibility that this discouraged students from handwriting the paper, seeing that many teachers have become paperless. This problem has not entirely gone away though, seeing as some students have trouble printing: “Some students don’t have access to printers, so come in expecting that they can just share it on google docs, which doesn’t work for all papers,” said Houle. The printing issue is a problem that teachers will have to adapt to, as there are no immediate solutions.
Many teachers have been thrilled with the fact that students are no longer distracted by games or social media while doing homework. Further, the fact that there are some blocks or shields on what you can access on the Chromebooks will also help students to stay on track. It will be interesting to follow how students grades are affected by the new Chromebook initiative. Teachers also have an opportunity to get Chromebooks, and Houle added, “it will help me figure out new ways to use them and take advantage of them in a classroom environment.”
It’s safe to say the Chromebook initiative has had great success so far. While it may add extra weight to student’s backpacks, it will expand educational resources and create new opportunities that were not always possible before.