Monday, May 5, 2014

ChromeBooks in HCS

Hello Tech Ninjas! I was asked to do a short post on ChromeBooks in the district. I definitely see ChromeBooks as the device of the future for Harnett County Schools. We have purposely not made the foray into the ChromeBook world yet for two main reasons: 1) we were waiting for a more robust machine to come out that would work better in our environment; and 2) we were not sure that our staff as a whole was ready to go "all-in" with Google Apps.

I believe that Dell's release of a ChromeBook with 4GB of RAM and an 11-hour battery life helped to address the first concern. I have been using a Dell ChromeBook 11 since they were released and have been extremely impressed with the performance of the machine. Going from Off to On, logged in, and working in less than 20 seconds is definitely a strength of the device and one that our students and staff will, I am sure, appreciate. The battery life definitely sets the ChromeBook apart from any other laptop.

The second issue of staff readiness is a little more difficult to quantify, but I am confident that our planned staff development will adequately address it. ChromeBooks have been purchased for each Curriculum Director, Literacy Coach, Instructional Coach, Technology Facilitator, and Media Coordinator to allow these integral staff members to begin preparing for the transition to the new devices. Also, several 1:1 ChromeBook classrooms have been funded across the district and at each grade configuration so that some of our early adopters can put the devices through the paces in the classroom. It is also planned that the new Highland Middle School will open as a 1:1 ChromeBook school.

Like any device, there are certainly strengths and weaknesses of ChromeBooks. I feel confident that the strengths of the Dell ChromeBook 11 greatly outweigh its limitations - especially considering we can purchase between three and four of them for every Mac and/or PC laptop that we typically purchase. It will certainly be interesting to see how the deployment of large numbers of ChromeBooks go in the future, but I strongly believe that the devices can be used in an instructionally appropriate manner to engage our students and further their education.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at jpittman@harnett.k12.nc.us.

Thanks!
Jeff Pittman
Chief Technology Officer
Harnett County Schools