Tech Talk Live Blog

Growth of Google and Chromebooks at Springfield

Randy McNally

Three years ago a plan was implemented to rewrite the grade 7 and 8 Social Studies and Science curriculums. As part of the plan, a “total digital” based resources would replace traditional books and workbooks. The idea was for each curriculum to include relevant resources. The curriculum would be more adaptable to current environmental changes for all involved (student, teacher, parent, and community).

With the “what” established we began to look for the ultimate machine to transport these ideas. This is where it was first suggested that we look at the Chromebook. We also looked at the Surface, tablets, laptops, iPads . . . etc. As we worked through the process, we decided the device needed a keyboard.  It had to be wireless, easy to use and manage, and have a long lasting battery (at least one full classroom day: 6-7 hours). The device also had to handle multiple accounts (used by more than one user and possibly as many as 100s).

After the curriculum was written, we first tried the traditional laptops. The devices were slow responsively, the battery life was too short, and multiple users caused problems with the effective operation of the device. A new device was just starting in the K-12 market and it was Chromebook. We looked at these devices and gave several to our teachers in grade 7 and 8 to try and use during the summer.

Chromebooks gave us a keyboard, extraordinary battery life, and quick responsiveness. Multiple users can use a single Chromebook. The Chromebook was easy to use. We provided a Google seminar, which was held at the IU for our grade 7 and 8 teachers. We also provided Chromebooks to those same teachers for the entire summer prior to the first year of usage. Ultimately, the teachers began meeting informally and then during their prep times to discuss usage of Google Chrome. What we saw was greater collaboration amongst the students and the faculty. We saw an increase in the rigor of the curriculum with students performing higher level writing. The adaption of curriculum, especially in Social Studies and Science with more current information available, was occurring daily in the classroom.

Currently, we are using Chromebooks in Kindergarten through grade 9 classrooms. Our ninth grade students will be getting Chromebooks to take home. We have a one-to-one in our high school with laptops that has been in place for 8 years. In our high school, we plan to move one grade at a time to Chromebooks, starting in 2016. In 2018 our one-to-one program will be entirely Chromebooks.

Watch Randy’s complete Tech Talk Live presentation, Growth of Google and Chromebooks at Springfield, here​.

Randy McNally has been working in education for the past 16 years as the Director of Technology at Springfield School District in Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has one undergraduate degree and two master’s degrees, in addition to his certification in Instructional Technology. During this time we have installed a complete district-wide network both wired and wireless. We have been working on various projects to integrate technology into our classrooms. We have installed interactive whiteboards throughout the district, and started a high school one-to-one initiative and a Chromebook initiative throughout the district. Randy performs a Distance Education “Puppet Show” for his kindergarten and first grade students. Learning for all ages at all times is the key to our success and fun at work. It is not just about the computer, laptop, printer, network, whiteboard . . . it is about the people, the students, the teachers, the administrators, the staff, and the parents learning something new, different, and imaginative.

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