5 things you need to know when adding Chromebooks to your school’s technology plan

With educators globally changing their mindset to best meet the needs of 21st century students, many schools are shifting to a 1:1 technology structure. This means there is one mobile or personal device per student present in the classroom, allowing for student-driven instruction, self-paced interactivity, and true ownership of learning. But what style of device is best for 1:1 instructional design? The options can be overwhelming. With the ever-growing concerns of budget and device management, many schools are choosing to simplify and reduce costs with Chromebooks & G-Suite integration. It’s incredibly important, however, to make an informed decision– so here are some points to consider when adding Chromebooks to your school’s technology plan.

1- Chromebooks provide a different experience than laptops. Here’s how: Chromebooks are a lightweight and budget-friendly alternative to Windows and Mac laptops.  Rather than the internalized Windows or Mac operating system, Chromebooks are powered by the Chrome Web Browser, which means the Internet does the heavy lifting, allowing a $250 Chromebook to perform as well as a much more expensive laptop. Chromebooks are often constructed with a fanless design and small Solid State Hard Drives, and limiting the amount of moving parts greatly increases the durability of the hardware. Since the onboard storage is limited, ChromeOS is designed to be powered by the internet and take advantage of cloud storage options.


2- Network improvement may be necessary for optimal performance.

Chromebooks rely entirely on wireless network infrastructure and thrive on Internet bandwidth.  When considering rolling out Chromebooks to the student body and faculty, it is important to have a network analysis completed by a qualified network engineer.  Inadequacies in the wireless technology used in your school will quickly become major headaches if they are not addressed before rollout. The core network infrastructure should also be considered since adding even 100 – 250 extra devices on your network can cause overall network speeds to slow to a crawl.


3-Device management is essential.

Google makes managing Chomebooks easy through their ChromeOS management platform.  When purchasing your Chromebooks through a Google ChromeOS certified integrator, you can opt to buy a one time lifetime device license to connect the device to your Google management domain.  Once a device is added to the management Domain you can centrally control permissions and settings for all of the devices that you manage from a single pane of glass. Easily keep track of inventory, life cycle, and disable lost devices.  This platform is also used to manage the users and groups on your domain. There is a lot of flexibility with the Chrome Management Platform. If you are deploying a fleet of Chromebooks to your faculty and staff, you should absolutely invest in the Google Management Platform.


4- Training and support for teachers is important. It doesn’t matter what technology you implement if your teachers are not comfortable using it! If your school does not have an instructional coach or an instructional technology resource teacher (ITRT) on staff, hire an ed-tech trainer who will spend time acclimating teachers to Google classroom and the Google suite. Allow time for the learning curve–reinforce, encourage, and reinforce some more. If you value professional development, so will your faculty. Proper implementation and integration with ACCOUNTABILITY will ensure your Chromebooks get used for more than just typing, giving you the most efficacy out of your investment.


5- Done right, Chromebooks WILL improve student engagement. Chromebooks (or any technology!) should not be used as simply a replacement vehicle for note-taking, nor is it merely a tool for having students type rather than write their assignments. Although word-processing is possible and a great experience using Google Docs, that should be considered a bonus feature, not a mainframe purpose of the Chromebook. Instead, Chromebooks can (and should) be used to turn the typical classroom experience into one that is engaging, collaborative, and relevant to our digitally native students. Some of our major interactive software options also now allow seamless integration with Google classroom, making it even easier for teachers to use resources and lessons they already have, and make them interactive with 1:1 Chromebooks!


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