Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why I Love the Chromebook

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I love Chromebooks. It's not because I'm a Google Certified Teacher / Trainer or because I don't like Microsoft, or [only] because they are cheap, or because they do something different than my Android, iPhone, iPad, Macbook, Windows computer.

I love the Chromebook because, in my opinion, it exemplifies everything that I love about technology and the potential for technology to impact education.

1. Simplicity

I have spent hour planning the perfect lesson; slide presentations, multimedia, practice problems and more. These are NOT the lesson that my students remember. My best lessons occur when I tell a story about my past or a real-life event or surprise them with a non-traditional style of instruction. For teachers, simple lessons can have the biggest impact. Tell a story. Let students explore. Let them teach each other.

Many teachers avoid technology because of the complexity of it all: Battery life, WiFi strength, bandwidth, storage capacity, logins, passwords, and more. Chromebooks are simple. Turn them on and you are ready to learn. Nothing to download, update, install, or save.

Technology should make us more productive and better able to communicate, create, and connect with others. If it doesn't, we should question whether we would be better off using a pencil and a sheet of paper.

2. Flexibility

Classrooms that are built around rules, procedures, and laws cause stress. Does my name have to be in the top right or left corner? Is it blue pen for first draft and black for second draft? The classroom that has clear boundaries in which students are encouraged to explore is the classroom I want to be in.

Chromebooks offer astounding flexibility as they mold and change with surprising ease. I love the fact that you can pull any Chromebook out of a cart, log in to your account and the device immediately becomes your own. The farther away we can move from technologies that are platform, OS, or device specific, the better.

Technology should create NEW learning opportunities, not limit what we can accomplish in the classroom.

3. Accessibility

Teacher access is a critical component to student engagement and learning. Have you ever been in a class that was so big you were just a face in the crowd? Have you ever had a teacher that was unapproachable or who had limited availability? Research indicates that the connection between the teacher and student is critical if learning is going to occur.

Just like every student should be able to connect personally with their teacher, students should be able to connect personally with technology; they must have access. Technology that is only accessible at school, or in a specific class, or on a specific device makes learning difficult. Chromebooks are inexpensive and run on the web which means are affordable and accessible.

We also have the responsibility to keep our student safe from harm and preserve their innocence. Chromebooks can do just that with safety and security capabilities that are best in class. When coupled with other innovative tools, we can even prevent cyber bulling and self harm.

Technology should also be available to all learners, not just traditional learners. There are many stories that highlight how Chromebooks are opening up new opportunities for students with diverse learning needs.

Technology should increase student access and opportunities regardless of the economic status or learning style, and technology should be used to keep our students safe and accountable.

4. Iterative Innovation

Can you imagine what would happen if administrators refused to let teachers modify their lesson plans or syllabus after the start of the school year? Teaching is an iterative process. Try something, revise, and repeat! Teachers don't wait until next school year to modify their teaching style or lesson plans, they update as often and as quickly as necessary.

The design of traditional software and devices makes them difficult to update. Find the perfect iOS app mid-year? Good luck trying to push it out to your entire fleet of iPads for class tomorrow!

Google pushes out a new version of ChromeOS every six weeks. Apps, Extensions, bookmarks, and more can be pushed out to ChromeOS devices instantly. Teachers can use Google Classroom or Google Play for education to send content directly to student devices without bugging the IT department for help.

Technology acts like a magnifying glass - it makes a good teacher even better and opens up additional learning pathways.

I want my classroom to be Simple, Flexible, Accessible and Innovative. That's the kind of classroom I would want my kids in as well. Perhaps that class would also use Chromebooks.


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