Over the past several months we at RFSD have been looking at potentially “mixing” our 1 to 1 environment in order to meet learning objectives, respond to staff tech integration requests, and use allocated funds most efficiently. We are currently in year 1 of a 3 year 1 to 1 program. We handed out iPads to 500 8th and 9th graders last summer with the idea that we’d add 2 grade levels a year until we were at 6-12 1 to 1 on the iPads. Then, sometime in the late fall I began reading about all of the new Chromebooks that were coming out, and how much they had improved since their initial release 2+ years ago. The number one capability that caught my eye was the newly-designed offline capabilities that allowed for the use of Drive applications without an internet connection. This lead to some hypothetical discussions in the district tech office that then lead to hypothetical discussions with our Curriculum Coordinator and HS principal, etc. all the way up to the superintendent. All parties were interested in hearing the cost-benefit options of introducing Chromebooks into the environment. At around $100 per device savings, the discussion was a valuable one. After many discussions a plan was created. We are going to enter what I believe to be somewhat uncharted waters; we are mixing our 6-12 1 to 1 environment. Why? Both devices meet our 21st century learning objectives, the Chromebook is very user friendly for our 10-12 staff who are not all digital natives; making the integration of it more likely in their course, the kids are used to using Drive and Google apps on their iPads, and the Chromebooks have keyboards and they are approved for state and federal testing. One con? The lack of a rear-facing camera. That’s why we plan to keep some iPads on hand at HS for iMovie projects, and we are adding a multi-media; multi-tech collaboration and creation room in our media center for Chrome-based and ios-based projects.
So now what?
Well, we are planning to begin training our 10-12 staff on the Chromebooks, and continue to train our 6-9 staff on the iPads. Also, we will continue our bi-weekly lessons for students on the capabilities of both devices, and finally; we plan to keep our BYOD policy in place in case kids really want to buy and bring iPads in the upper levels.
We have not decided on a model of Chromebook yet, but there are a couple of great options out there including the Acer c270p which has touch-screen capabilities.
After all, our 1 to 1 program is a learning initiative, not a technology initiative. We can meet and exceed our goals with the iPad, Chromebooks, and/or perhaps a different device in the future. Check out this post for more on that topic! http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/01/macbook-chromebook-ipads-moving-beyond-platforms/
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