Chromebook Trial: Part 1 – They’re here

I applied for a one month Chromebook trial through c-learning and the 15 Chromebooks were delivered on 10 January 2014 ready to be handed over the the PE faculty, who have been the most fervent users of Google Drive since we adopted Google Apps for Education (GAfE) in September 2013.

We have the Samsung series 5 Chromebooks until Valentine’s day and I aim to share our experience on this blog in addition to my other technology for learning instructional blog.

Chromebooks are up and running in 10 seconds, you log in to your Google account and then you have access to all the tools you can use through a web-browser. For education you can purchase a management licence per Chromebook (around £20), which allows you the ability to manage content and access and wipe any Chromebooks that go missing making them useless. The Chromebooks run Chrome OS (who would have though it!) providing a web-based interface for all the Google tools and other web services you use. Dan Leighton has more experience with Chromebooks and GAfE and wrote a review of Google Apps for education with the following summary for Chromebooks:

“They just make all of the useful stuff above work properly. No fuss. No messing about. No losing work. Cheap. Good to type on. Go buy one and try it out. I recommend the new Acer. Not as pretty, but way faster than any other models for around £200 from all participating outlets…”

A name that has regularly been mentioned to me in discussions about Chromebooks in education is Guy Shearer who I will be meeting at BETT2014 in order to gain some of his experience for getting the most out of Chromebooks and GAfE in schools. He writes an interesting blog that I recommend for anyone leading GAfE or looking to introduce Chromebooks.

Our school are at a point where we need some investment into infrastructure if we are to introduce extensive access to devices via wifi. The purpose of the trial is to

  1. Evaluate the infrastructure’s ability to accommodate web-based devices
  2. Evaluate the learning impact of devices
  3. Evaluate the appropriateness of Chromebooks
  4. Establish some best practice in using devices in the classroom

It is important that a learning benefit is clear if any investment is to be made available. If the infrastructure stands in the way of improved learning outcomes then there is a strong case for infrastructure investment which I can take to the leadership team. This month will be an interesting indication of the best route forward with technology for learning at our school.

My personal feeling is that devices available for teachers and students would be a better solution than providing 1:1 devices as many schools seem to be trying to do. I have not managed to understand the use of 1:1 ipads yet but having not taught in a school with such a scheme I have no evidence to base that hunch on.

It would be interesting to know what kind of devices other schools are using. I would presume Microsoft PC’s and laptops are prevalent but there are some increasingly innovative technical support people out there who are trying hard to support the learning and teaching in their schools with alternative models.

I look forward to sharing the progress of the trial with you all.

Ben Rouse

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