Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lessons from a Fully Stocked Chromebook Library, Eric Currie, Hitch Elementary School

This year, the librarians in the REVITAL Grant are sporting 19 Chromebooks and 10 iPads.  I had access to this last year (though I had 21 CBs).  My school outfitted the Library with chromebooks to increase access to technology in our building, and to get us better prepared for the PARCC technology requirements.  This year, because of the grant, I’m now at 40 CBs.  I’d like to share some of the insights I had from last year (with a limited amount of CBs) and this year (with enough for a classroom set).

Limited Amount:
I enjoyed having the limited amount of CBs.  It forced my hand at centers, which I had wanted to try but wasn’t confident enough in being able to pull it off.  I had a third of the students doing Typing Club, another third usually doing some form of research or an iPad project, and the last third checking out books.  Though hectic, for the most part, it was pulled off nicely.  Everyone used the Guest account which I liked because all the grades could get right on without the fuss of logging in.  However, things got stressful when I had a classes of 35 and I had to scrounge around for ways to get students on (and an iPad wasn’t appropriate).  I also heavily utilized the library page to provide instructions for what students were to do that week.  

Fully Stocked:
Of course everyone would love to have this situation.  However, I have two pieces of advice for CPS librarians who are merging to collections of Chromebooks and getting closer to a classroom set.
  1. If you have a collection of unsupervised Chromebooks, get them supervised.  I have only recently done this.  it allows you to use the admin console to push out apps, have a universal experience among the different users.
  2. Number the chromebooks and assign them to students.  Create a spreadsheet that you can reference later.  I’ve also recently done this (I previously used a google form to have students sign out their chromebook).  Now, when a keyboard letter goes missing, I know who to speak to about it.  Assigned CBs also mean students can add themselves as users as they will only appear on that specific CB.  

I love having a classroom set of CBs.  Students are able to research more independently and for longer periods of time than before.  However, I do miss the on-the-fly problem solving and spontaneity of having a limited number of chromebooks.

iPad Update:
I find that I only use iPads when I’m doing something that can only be done with an iPad (iMovie, Green Screen, Chatterpix, etc.)  They’re great devices, however, this year I find that I use them only for specific tasks rather than having an entire project “live” on the device.

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