One US school’s experiment with Chromebooks and Google Apps had an unexpected outcome as creativity flourished.
TechRepublic is currently running an article about the use of Chromebooks in Kentucky Country Day school in the US. The private school recently began requiring that all middle school students purchase a Chromebook as part of the school’s 1:1 laptop program. Simultaneously the students were provided with a Google Apps account to allow them to use Google’s suite of web apps.
The intention was to improve student communication and provide infrastructure cost savings, but the school reportedly also found unexpected benefits.
Students were using their devices to create non-assigned projects like short stories and share them with their peers and instructors for feedback. The faculty quickly realized that the star of the show wasn’t the Chromebooks themselves, but the Google Apps suite they were all now using. The use of Chromebooks in the classroom is subject to the discretion of the individual teacher, but the teachers that allowed the use of the Chromebooks saw a fundamental shift in the way they taught. Now that the students had access to content via the Internet, the teachers began to focus on teaching learning skills and how to apply facts and figures to real-world applications.
The article looks at the school’s decision making process and how they came to settle on Chromebooks. “What ever direction we took,” said the school’s Director of Technology, “the device was going to be our last consideration.”
Many schools are coming to the conclusion that the future of school technology is going to be service based rather than device or operating system-centric. A lot of Network Managers and Technicians I speak with are concerned that the use of cloud technologies is going to affect their postition. The example at Kentucky Country Day school, however, makes clear that a strong element of technical support is needed even if some internal infrastructure is based offsite.
If you’re looking at Chromebooks or Google Apps for your school, or deciding whether tablets are the direction you want to take, it’s worth taking a look at the article, even if most of it is a bit of a Google Apps lovefest.