Friday, January 27, 2012

1-1 with Chromebooks: An Update from FETC

Bryan Weinert  and Jason Markey at the FETC Keynote
I've been feeling a little guilty that my blog has been gathering dust, but not much. Since I last posted, we've been busy at Leyden. Really, really busy.

In 2012/2013, Leyden High Schools will provide a Chromebook to every student. At the Florida Educational Technology Conference (FETC) 2012,  Google made a big push to highlight several districts who are going 1-1 next year with Chromebooks. Leyden was joined by representatives from Council Bluffs, Iowa and Richland School District, South Carolina.

A typical crowd at the Chrome Booth

To say the least, the reaction at the conference was impressive. I guess we're not used to anyone noticing what we do or acknowledging how hard we all work. Google Evangelist Jamie Casap noted that one conference goer said to him, "I needed to come down here and see what was going on, every session I went to today was talking about Chromebooks..."

Here's the full keynote address moderated by the estimable author, blogger, and school administrator Tom Vander Ark and featuring Rajen Sheth, "the Father of Google Apps", AND A SPECIAL PANEL APPEARANCE BY LEYDEN'S TECHNOLOGY DIRECTOR BRYAN WEINERT AND EAST LEYDEN ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL JASON MARKEY.

(Skip ahead to the 15:38 mark)

Also read Bryan Weinert's blog post about the event, and find a long list of the blogs and articles written about the event.   Jason Markey put together a Storify about the Chromebook "buzz" at FETC.

As one might imagine, there are a number of issues to tackle with any 1-1 project, particularly being an early adopter of a relatively new device: Curriculum, assessment, instruction, professional development, communication with families, infrastructure, hardware,  discipline policies, social media policies, and deployment. Its a lot to deal with, and it's easy to get bogged down with the daily struggles involved with getting all of this ready. Putting all of this together has been a team effort involving our teachers, administrators, our fellow Chromebook districts, and the incredibly supportive and responsive Google Chromebook team.

However, being at FETC and talking about the 1-1 project with representatives from Council Bluffs, Iowa and Richland School District in South Carolina, as well as the Google team and the countless conference attendees who expressed interest in Chromebooks, I'm reminded why we're doing it: because it's the right thing to do for students.

Reflecting on our journey so far, the process of getting to this point drives home why we need to go 1-1 in the first place.  Quite honestly, this could not have been done in this amount of time solely with "20th Century tools": faxes, phone calls, flights, and face-to-face meetings.  We have to equip our students with the same collaborative skills that we ourselves have used to get to this point.

We have communicated and collaborated via email, Google Docs, Google Forms, Google text and video chats, cross-country video conferences with  Google+ Hangouts, Twitter, and sometimes even the phone. Occasionally, we'd get together physically. Work gets done and ideas are shared no matter where the players are physically. What matters is the intellectual capital necessary to get the job done.

It's been the kind of collaboration that I believe our students will have once they leave school, so we had better be preparing them for it while they're in school. We have an obligation to provide an educational experience that prepares students for the world outside  of school. That means that they need to be creative, expressive, collaborative information evaluators and problem solvers.

So let's keep working, collaborating, and creating to make this work. August is right around the corner, and our students can't wait any longer.

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