Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting Ready for the HP Chromebooks

The first full week at the +William Davies Middle School, I was very busy unpacking, enrolling and testing 75 HP Chromebooks to be used and shared by 6th grade students.  Staff and students at the William Davies Middle School have been in a 1:1 environment for the past 4 years.  However, because of the cost to maintain the netbooks, the district was not able to afford a 1:1 environment any more.  To offset the expense of school devices, administration is implementing a BYOD policy for staff and students. They were able to purchased 75 HP Chromebooks for students and will be purchasing an additional 40 HP Chromebooks for staff.

This year is a transition year.  While 7th and 8th grade students will be 1:1 using their netbooks, 6th grade students will have to share the Chromebooks, but they do have the option to bring their own device.  Here is what has happened so far:

  • The tech department has added an open wifi to our network that will allow the Chromebooks and other devices to connect to it. 
  • I enrolled all 75 Chromebooks into our Google Apps for Education domain.
  • +Joe Knopp and I tested the Chromebooks on the open wifi to ensure Internet surfing was successful. There were many changes the network administrator had to allow for with the Chromebooks to enroll and surf the Internet successfully.  
  • I setup the Chromebooks in the GAFE domain as public kiosk and setup other policies for the devices.
  • An understanding was established for students using their own devices.  They will not be allowed to use their devices in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms.  This may change as needed.
Here is what still needs to be done:
  • Students will need a lesson on using the Chromebooks.  I will make a screencast on the care of it, handling it, proper shut down procedures, etc.
  • Some of the policies are not being enforced on all of the Chromebooks.  I have a call in for Google Tech Support to assist me with this issue.
  • Setting up carts
  • Labeling the devices
  • Teachers need to know the procedures on sharing the devices.  This will be handled between the teachers.  Right now, the plan is one cart will be shared between two teachers, and they will have to agree on the arrangements. 
  • Constant professional development and support to teachers and students who are using the devices and GAFE.
  • Teacher training on the Chromebooks
  • Teacher laptops will be taken away and replaced with Chromebooks
Once the Chromebooks and other devices are being used, I know there will be changes made to improve the process of using them.  Since this is a transition year, everyone involved in this process will need to adjust their teaching methods and be flexible to allow for this type of technology integration.  For example, teachers will have to allow students to implement the use of other apps on their own devices.  

As I mentioned to staff who are involved in this transition, an "Unlearn and Relearn" attitude will help ease the stress of implementing technology.  Not only are we implementing BYOD, but we are implementing Google Apps for Education, and Google Classroom.   It's okay to take risks, explore the unknown, and make mistakes, that is how we all learn!  Without mistakes, we will never get better!  

I will continue to document my experiences with Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Google Apps for Education, and BYOD at the William Davies Middle School.

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