Chromebooks were purchased in the fall of 2014 for all faculty members. While opinions about specific technology always vary, we hope you will read the Frequently Asked Questions below in order to understand why Chromebooks were purchased and what they might mean for our collective future.

Why are teachers getting a Chromebook?
As more of our systems become computerized and web-based, we recognize the need to provide teachers with effective tools. In particular, the expanding use of Aspen has moved student and teacher information from metal file cabinets into the “cloud.” However, moving these resources to the cloud is only of value if we ensure that everyone has equal and easy access to it.

What is a Chromebook?
Unlike traditional laptops, Chromebooks have minimal hardware in them. Instead of operating and storing material on a hard-drive it is almost exclusively a cloud-based device. These cloud-based devices are becoming increasingly popular since the average person spends the majority of their computing time emailing or accessing web based resources. The Chromebook was not designed to replace the desktop computer, nor is our use of them at Triton meant to do that.

Why did we buy Chromebooks instead of something else?
The Chromebook won’t be able to please all the people all the time, but it can please all the people most of the time. The Chromebook is where price, mobility, and functionality all come together in today’s market. Outfitting each teacher with the device of their personal choice is not feasible, both from a funding and a management perspective. We need to provide devices that maximizes the ability to communicate, access data, browse, and travel in the most secure and affordable method.. While there are tradeoffs, the ability to outfit all teachers with this level of functionality is only possible with the Chromebook.

What are the benefits of Chromebooks?
Chromebooks are cheaper and have a longer life than traditional computers. They require less time troubleshooting and starting up, saving precious time in the classroom in particular. From a system management perspective, they are easy to manage and simple to replace since nothing is saved on the hard drive. Likewise, the machines provide better security since they are less vulnerable to computer viruses or data loss. They are cost effective enough that we can outfit all teachers with our eye on the possibility of outfitting all students in the future.

What are the instructional benefits to Chromebooks?
Regardless whether it is a laptop, iPad, or Chromebook, student access to technology in the classroom enhances student and teacher engagement for instruction. As for Chromebooks, they provide user friendly access to all web resources, regardless of content. In addition, Google’s expansive and free platform provides students and teachers countless instructional tools that would be cost prohibitive or logistically difficult with other devices. Since every student will have a user account, Chromebooks are easily shared. Instructional time spent setting up specific tools will be significantly reduced. For examples of these instructional benefits, here are 30 ideas for using Chromebooks in education.

What are the drawbacks of Chromebooks?
Chromebooks cannot manage other hardware or large amounts of multimedia editing. Although there are similar apps on it, the Chromebook cannot install pieces of software you might be running on your desktop. Since it is a cloud-based device, there are significant limitations when it is offline. Many Google Apps can work offline but true functionality requires it to always be online.

Will every student have their own username and Google account?
Yes, once we begin deploying mobile Chromebook labs, every student will have a unique username to log into a Chromebook. Since it is a cloud-based device, this username will allow them to use any Chromebook and instantly access their saved work. Likewise, this system will allow students to share documents, projects, blogs, presentations, chats, e-portfolios, and other resources in a secure fashion. However, students will not be assigned a Gmail account at this time.

Are we becoming a “Google School”?
The term “Google School” or “GAFE School” (Google Apps For Education) are thrown around routinely. While the term has many meanings, it is typically used when schools almost exclusively use Google products to host items like email, calendars, but more specifically when there is a move away from Microsoft Office, replacing it with Google Docs. We continue to explore the options and opportunities Google offers, including the benefits and draw backs of each of their products. While the feasibility and benefits of moving our email and calendaring into the GAFE platform seem viable, a move away from Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) is not something we are pursuing. While Office will remain available and primary on all PC’s, the deployment of Chromebooks provides the additional option of using Google Docs, which provides extensive mobility and sharing of files and documents for those wishing to explore the benefits. To date, there are many teachers across the district that are using GoogleDocs, and providing the opportunity to have staff and student GAFE accounts allows that to continue with more continuity and security.

Is there a 1:1 plan to provide every student a Chromebook?
No, there is not currently a 1:1 plan to provide every student a Chromebook. That said, the Chromebook provides one of the best options to scale up student access to technology. Unlike many tablets (no physical keyboard), the Chromebooks received high marks in online PARCC testing this year. Thanks to several grants, there are carts of Chromebooks rolling into schools this fall. These carts contain a complete, secure mobile Chromebook lab, complete with a wireless printer setup specifically for those devices. These carts provide the opportunity to upgrade our technology resources in the short term while simultaneously exploring what model and device would be best for Triton in the years ahead.