Our Chromebooks are almost ready to be put to use by students, but staff training has become an issue.
We needed a set of mobile devices for our Science department. They had to be portable but we didn’t have the budget for Windows laptops. In our research we came to the conclusion that using iPads as multi-user devices wasn’t appropriate, however, we still wanted the accessibility, speed, and reliability of a tablet. We decided to experiment with a set of 25 Chromebooks.
Start of Term
It’s the start of term, but we’ve yet to present the students or teachers with the Chromebooks. With Windows laptops, we’d just place the trolley in the classroom and let the teachers use them as required, but I felt that there was enough additional learning curve to justify holding the Chromebooks back before we conducted some informal training with the staff using them.
No matter how accessible a technology is there is always some level of training required, even if that is only to become familiar with the device. A number of teachers from our Science department, never having used Chromebooks before were very keen just to take the Chromebooks and use them in a lesson immediately. While this enthusiasm is great, and bodes well for use of the Chromebooks within the department, I made the decision that the Chromebooks should not be used in any lessons until the teachers had at least an informal orientation session.
A quick check of Google Apps Control Panel proved that about 50% of the staff who were to use the Chromebooks had never logged in to their Google account. This immediately started warning bells in my head and confirmed for me that only a few of the teachers using the Chromebooks only a basic understanding of how they worked.
In fact the first request made to me was, “Can I borrow the Chromebooks, the students only need a web browser, oh, and Microsoft Publisher.”
[pullquote]Can I borrow the Chromebooks, the students only need a web browser, oh, and Microsoft Publisher.[/pullquote]
A second issue we have is that although we’ve been using Google Apps for around twelve months many of our students have not logged on or used the service to any degree. We’re also using Google Apps Password Sync to synchronise our Active Directory account passwords with our Google Apps accounts. But because passwords only sync to Google Apps when the user manually changes their password in Windows, many of our new intake students will simply be unable to sign on until they have logged on to a Windows PC or visited the admin team for a manual reset.
The Chromebooks have been prepared with a fairly basic set up, which I outlined in a previous article, and with a few standard apps (Google Docs, Forms, Sheets etc.) “installed” from the Google Apps Control Panel.
In testing everything works well, the machines boot and connect to the WiFi network quickly and we’re confident that our wireless network can handle the load. But there are also those unforeseen issues that I want to make sure we pick up on first with a slow take up of usage in class.
Once students have the Chromebook in their hands next week we’ll see how they get on with them.