Deploying a 1:1 Chromebook program to over 100 Year 5 & 6 students at the beginning of 2014 was very exciting.
Our school was focused on Contemporary Learning practice which is summed up so well by the 5 C’s; Create, Connect, Communicate, Capture and Collaborate. Google Apps For Education (GAFE) is a great enabler of this and was already being embedded into teaching and learning. We knew what students could achieve using the GAFE tools and wanted to increase our fleet of devices to compliment the direction of this school vision.
In 2013 all classrooms had access to 4 desktops, 3 laptops and shared 6 iPads with a neighbouring class. This allowed students access to the internet and GAFE, but ultimately meant teachers had to design lessons around limited devices.
We believed a 1:1 device program would be the best fit for our teaching and learning paradigm. Our aim was to hide technology in classrooms. We wanted the focus to be taken off the device so it would be seen as just another option the teacher and student had at their disposal to complete assigned tasks.
Exploring device options we looked at increasing our fleet of iPads and Laptops or the purchase of Chromebooks. We trialled 3 Chromebooks and found they met the needs of our students and school vision perfectly. They really are a fantastic device being fully functional from turn on in under 10 seconds, having a battery life of up to 7 hours, and being able to perform roughly 90% of all things we would ask of a PC. With a price tag around $350, they are a very cost effective measure to get devices into the hands of our students. The decision was made and Chromebooks were purchased and planning for implementation begun.
Upgrading our infrastructure was a key priority. Our network was not designed to cater for such a high number of devices. Increasing the wireless strength to ensure the implementation of this 1:1 program went smoothly was completed. This allowed teachers to have confidence in the device always being fully functional so their focus could solely be on teaching and learning.
Enrolling and management of the Chromebooks in the Admin Console is a dream. The fact that settings, policies, and apps and extensions are enforced to each user from their Organisational Unit under Chrome Management means that whether users are signing into a Chromebook or the Chrome browser, their settings are enforced across all platforms. Any changes made to these policies and settings are pushed to the user in 30 minutes as our Policy Refresh Rate is set to the minimum setting. Even better is that any updates the device needs run automatically when the user signs into their account without them even realising.
As the Chromebook is simply the Chrome Operating System, support for staff was focused heavily on the Chrome browser and GAFE tools and not the device. We held Professional Learning Meetings, Techie Breakies, Techie Afternoons, and in class support to ensure lesson design and implementation was transformative. Selected senior students were trained as Tech Wizards to help provide further support to students and teachers to ensure that assistance was always available.
The school vision was to create a Contemporary Learning environment for our students. The 1:1 Chromebook program has allowed this to take place. Students are creating, connecting, communicating, capturing and collaborating with classes all around the world. They are able to log into a Chromebook at school, then when at home log into their account on their home device and continue exactly where they left off.
This 1:1 program was never about the device. We could have deployed PCs, Laptops or iPads and the teaching and learning would have still been the priority and support would have all still been focused on the Chrome browser and GAFE. The fact the Chromebook is only $350 and the management of the device is second to none were a bonus.
Looking forward to 2015 we are increasing our fleet of Chromebooks to be 1:1 for all students in Year 3 – 6. We are again excited to see what can teachers and students can achieve with these devices in their hands.