We are beginning to run this Q and A document in smaller, more digestible chunks on the PrairiePride.org. However, I think it’s worthwhile to share all of the information here, too. As always, please don’t hesitate to drop me a note or comment here if you have additional questions.
Q: Which students are getting Chromebooks? How many are being purchased for the fall of 2015?
A: All students in grades 6th through 9th will receive a Chromebook. These devices can be taken home. This will end up being about 1,700 devices.
Q: What is the Chromebook model students will be getting?
A: Students will be receiving an HP G3 11 inch Chromebook.
Q: When will students get these devices?
A: Students will be getting these devices on the first day of school. Students in grades 7-12 will be able to take their devices home immediately. Sixth grade students at Prairie Creek will work through learning about the device policy before earning the privilege of taking the Chromebook home.
Q: How are the Chromebooks different than MacBooks?
A: The Chromebooks run Chrome OS. Students will be required to sign into the Chromebook with their CRPrairie.org Google account. They are great devices for accessing all types of Internet based content and tools.
Q: Does the Chromebook require Internet access?
A: To be fully functional, yes it does require an Internet connection. However, any work done offline will automatically sync up once an Internet connection is reestablished. This does require a bit of planning as the Doc, Sheet, or Presentation being worked on will need to be left open before the Internet connection is interrupted. So, if a student is working on a Doc at school, they need to leave this document open when they leave school. Any work they do offline will automatically update when the Chromebook reconnects to the Internet.
Q: Why did we choose Chromebooks for our 6-9th graders?
A: A committee comprised of teachers and administrators from across the district as well as members of the school board and central office made the recommendation to purchase this type of device. Chromebooks have a high utility and a low cost point, so they are a great value.
Q: Are the policies for the Chromebooks and MacBooks different?
A: There are some differences.
- Students will be allowed to keep their Chromebooks over the summer. We will still require students using MacBooks to turn them at the end of each school year.
- The fine structure for the Chromebooks will be less expensive than the fine structure for the MacBooks. There will still be no cost to students or families for either device if they are well maintained.
- The policy for the Chromebook does not include any references to student loaded software or music.
All students in grades 6-12 will be required to sign and return the student laptop policy agreement form before any devices will be issued.
Q: What will happen if a student loses or has a Chromebook stolen?
A: Much like with our MacBooks, we will be able to lock and render the device unusable once we get a report of loss or theft. This has proven to be an effective deterrent to theft.
Q: Why do students with Chromebooks get to keep them over the summer and students with MacBooks need to turn them at the end of each school year?
A: We need to reload the MacBook’s software and recondition the computer for use the next year. The Chromebooks have no software that needs to be updated. Students who leave the district during the summer will have the Chromebooks locked if it is not returned promptly. This renders the device unusable. As stated in the student laptop policy, the district will file a report a police report for theft for any device that has been unreturned after follow up communication.
Q: What do students do if their Chromebook needs service or breaks over the summer?
A: District technology staff work year round. If a Chromebook needs service during the summer, call or email Angela Sleeper, technology administrative assistant, at 319 848 5419 firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time for a technician to work on the device.
Q: Are there any changes for students in grades 10-12 for their MacBooks?
A: Yes. Students may not get the same MacBook back each year due to refresh schedule. We are refreshing all of the MacBooks on a four-year cycle. So, each year we will be updating 25% of the fleet. For this reason and the need to recondition, the MacBooks will need to be turned in at the end of each school year.
Q: What about devices for students in grades K-5?
A: The same committee that recommended the Chromebook device also gave input on a comprehensive device plan for all grades. Our goal is to hit a one device for every two students (1:2) ratio in grades K-4. For our youngest learners, grades K-1, we will provide iPads. For grades 2-4, we’ll provide the same Chromebook model we be giving to our 6th through 9th graders. This plan will be phased in over the next five years. We will start with kindergarten in the fall of 2015. First grade will get iPads in the fall of 2016. While it will take some time to get all grade levels to the targeted ratio, this plan puts a sustainable model in place. To cover the shortfall in devices at the upper grade levels, we will be redeploying several hundred of our retired MacBooks from grades 10-12 and our staff for the next few years. While not ideal, this will help us get more devices in these students’ hands before the plan is fully implemented.
Fifth grade is a bit of an exception to our plan. Currently Prairie Creek, which houses all of our 5th and 6th grade learners, has over 400 Chromebooks. We plan to keep all of these devices at Prairie Creek. So, this will effectively put 5th grade at a 1:1 ratio in terms of device count. However, the team at Prairie Creek does not plan to have 5th grade students take these devices home. They will stay at school. So, our student Chromebook policy will not cover these devices.
Once our device plan is fully implemented, we will have well over 4,200 devices devoted to student use throughout the district.
Q: How do you plan to support all of these additional devices?
A: At this time, we will not be expanding the technology staff. Chromebooks are a lot simpler to support than the Apple product. There’s just not as much to break on them and there is no software to maintain. We will also be using student workers to help us support and repair these devices –something we’ve been unable to do with the Apple products due to warranty and security concerns. While we will not be adding staff, we will be ramping up our technician hours at Prairie Point. We will dedicate one staff member to Prairie Point full time starting next year. We will also be assigning a part time technician to Prairie Creek to start the year and establish ongoing weekly office hours there.
Q: When will we evaluate the device plan again?
A: We will study the device plan again in three years.
Q: Did we consider a BYOD (bring your own device)?
A: Yes. However, the committee felt that teachers needed more professional learning in order to design and teach high quality instruction in a BYOD environment. This will certainly be a conversation when we study devices again in three years. If (when) we go to a BYOD, CCSD will plan to provide a device to students who do not have one or cannot afford one.