Chromebooks: Devices to support learning for our students’ futures
School District 21’s Mission is “Preparing All Students for Success,” and the District’s Vision goes on to state that, “The purpose of District 21 schools is to provide a learning environment for all students to become life-long learners and productive citizens.” To that end, one of the main goals of the 2011-2014 School District 21 Technology Plan was to provide students with devices that serve as tools to better allow students and teachers to accomplish this Mission and Vision. This continues to support our Areas of Focus today.
In today’s world, as a result of the Internet, the amount of information available to students and teachers grows exponentially. Additionally, identifying the most accurate information requires that students can access the Internet and that students develop the skills to evaluate the information and its source(s). From there, to be successful as citizens and highly skilled Information Age workers, students must also be able to synthesize information that they have found from a variety of sources and use this information to create novel solutions to problems.
It is critical in this information age to have access to the Internet rather than relying on static printed books that are often out-of-date. Additionally, as information comes from a variety of sources, it is critical that students are able to access all of those varied sources as they engage in learning activities. Equally importantly, students need to be able to share their learning and the solutions to the problems that they have solved with others. Being able to connect with others and apply their learning to solve real problems results in much deeper levels of motivation for students, and the result is that students will learn more and retain it longer.
During the 2012-2013 school year, middle school students and a committee of staff members from across School District 21 took on the challenge of identifying the best possible solution for a student device. The following factors were considered in their decision-making process:
- Ability to use the device as a tool to accomplish School District 21’s PLC Areas of Focus
- Ease of use for end-users (students and teachers)
- Technical maintenance & management
Students and staff carefully examined and tested over a dozen devices across five categories of device type. Based on all of these factors and their experiences, both students and staff members determined that the Chromebook was the best option at this time for School District 21 and its students. Specifically, for the first round of Chromebooks in 2013-2014, the groups also determined that the best Chromebook model for purchase was the Acer C7 Chromebook with a 6-cell battery, 16GB SSD drive, and 4GB of RAM. Not only are these relatively low cost devices to begin with, but School District 21 was able to achieve an additional savings of nearly $79,000 over what had been budgeted in working with vendor partners.
The Class of 2021 and Class of 2022 have received Lenovo 11e Chromebooks.
All middle school students receive Chromebook Cases made by InfoCase.