Saturday, June 21, 2014

Congratulations, New Chromebooks for Everyone! But there's a catch....

  It's August. You come back to school where your classroom is clean and vibrant again. You're refreshed and excited to be back. You look around the room with an approving nod of your head as everything is back in  place exactly as you instructed. No surprises. It's been set up  this way for as long as you have been teaching. Nice orderly rows, maybe. Or, purposely arranged tables with seats ready to be assigned to students you think need to sit close to you. Your teacher desk is conveniently arranged so you can enter grades while still keeping a close eye on students working busily on their worksheets and assignments. It's going to be a great year.
     But wait! What's this??? A box full of shiny new Chromebooks? For me? We received a grant? Woohoo! I've been complaining about computer access for years. If only you could get me more lab time, I could really do all those wonderful tech things you and other teachers talk about. If you only gave me more netbooks, I could get all of those gifted kids on the Moodle. If you would give me more computers in my classroom I could have students take more AR tests and look up facts about Martin Luther King to copy and paste into their powerpoint presentations. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

     Hold on a minute. Slow down a second. Let's think about this. Although receiving a class set of Chromebooks  isn't a 1-1 deployment, this article states many of the concerns I have as an administrator overseeing the implementation of Chromebooks into our building.

    Imagine, it is the Fall of 1814, a school principal gives the teacher a box of shiny new pencils and shows her/him how students can now write neatly on paper and erase mistakes with no messy chalk dust. They could slip them in their shirt pockets and easily take them back and forth to school. It's the latest and greatest thing in schools.  But lo and behold, the principal checks in after a couple of months and sees the pencils are sitting on the teacher's desk being "protected." Afterall, those things are sharp! Someone could get hurt. And, they really don't work that well on all of the slate boards in the room.  It would be a shame to throw out perfectly good slates, because what if we ran out of paper someday and had to use them?  Students may forget how to properly clean one.

  listen and learn, eyes up front, turn the page now,  beep next slide, homework quiz test homework quiz test

 more over the shoulder, guiding, providing feedback, evaluating, balance of teacher time and student time, technology planned out and integrated for a purpose or as a tool

  I am not new to a Chromebook.  I have had one since they first came out and I am a big fan of them. That's why I am a bit nervous about rolling out Chromebooks to our 6th-12th grade classes next year. I am worried that we are putting technology designed for blended and pesonalized learning classrooms into traditional classrooms that are attempting to break out of the old school ways. Some say this will force them to. Some say if you rely on the technology to do it, it will fail because it is a major mindshift on behalf of teachers and teachers are individuals. Either way, it is going to happen. Meanwhile, I am going to do my best to help guide and assist them with the new opportunity.

    I hope they realize that when they choose to accept Chromebooks in the Fall,  they are making a choice to teach in ways that they may never have thought about before. That by accepting these Chromebooks, they are committing themselves and their students to using the Google Apps for Education products, apps and extensions that they may not yet understand, new expectations and rules for their classrooms, and maybe even changing physical room arrangements. New partnerships will have to be formed and connections sought out with other teachers in the district and throughout the OAC network that can add value and advice as they enter a new chapter of their teaching career. Will they be up to the effort? It remains to be seen.

     If your school was a recipient of the Straight A fund, chances are, someone in your pod decided to purchase Chromebooks as a way to support the goals of the grant. If so, I recommend you spend your summer learning about three things: Google Chromebooks/Chrome browser apps and extensions, Classroom for Google, and Blended Learning. Don't wait until school starts and say "Well, I am still waiting for Superman to fly in and teach me all of this stuff." I checked my Diigo library and found 21 items that are tagged with "chromebook" and 8 items tagged "blended learning", so it seems I have been collecting information for some time now waiting for this year to come. 

 I can't wait! It's going to be AWESOME!

 The Two-Gear Construct Credit: CFY

Resources to get started with Chromebooks in the classroom

Resources for Google Classroom