On the back of my Time-Shifted Teaching trial last year, we’re going ahead with a larger scale pilot of blended learning this year.
I found that there were a number of barriers to time-shifted teaching, including pupils’ access to computers at home. A chance discussion with ARK (the multi-academy network behind KSA) about scaling up blended learning in the face of such barriers set some wheels in motion and now I happily find myself in the position of playing Father Christmas.
If access to computers in our school’s postcode in London was a problem, it isn’t now. Courtesy of Google, we are able to offer each of my year 7s a Chromebook for this academic year at no cost to us or their families!
What can you do with a computer that only works on the internet?
Before this whole turn of events, I hadn’t ever thought about Chromebooks much, not least for use in schools. What can you do with a computer that only works on the internet?
Well, it turns out you can do most things on the internet these days so as long as you have a good connection Chromebooks will keep you doing do most of the things you’re used to doing. Obviously we know about all the educational content on the web that we could point our pupils to but what about all the things you do, you know, on a normal computer? Video and photo editing, writing documents, building spreadsheets and all the other things we normally associate with specialist software?
It turns out these can all be done in the cloud and given we have decent internet speeds at school, what’s to stop me using Chromebooks?! In fact, I’ve discovered that being internet-only devices makes Chromebooks a great match for educational settings. As they are simply glorified web browsers, they don’t need fast processors or large hard drives so Chromebooks are considerably lighter and boot up in seconds. They also have a long battery life.
I thought laptops were a pain to use in lessons?
Say that again…I thought laptops were a pain to use in lessons?
✔ Chromebooks have a long battery life (8+ hours) so they could sit on student desks all day…no more emergency charging mid-lesson.
✔ Chromebooks boot up from scratch in seconds (about 8) so there’s no waiting for various log-in procedures, system updates, and lengthy start up routines to take effect. It also means you don’t need to allow 10 minutes at the end of the lesson to shut down!
✔ Chromebooks use a Google account for logging in. With Google Apps for Education accounts, my pupils have instant access to the full combo of Google goodness – Gmail, Sites, Blogger, YouTube, Picasa, Maps, etc. (Incidentally, I’m not scared of what pupils might do with all that at their fingertips – I see these things as tools we can use to do some very interesting learning together.)
We’re all excited and from the looks on my students’ faces today, I think they know that Chromebooks are not just for Christmas.