Yesterday I was greeted with one of Steven W. Anderson‘s “Awesome” tweets:
‘Good Morning! Don’t wait for everything to be right to make your move. Take a chance and see what happens! Be awesome today!’
This tweet really spoke to me… and our new adventures with Chromebooks.
I fully admit that I am an Apple person -both professionally and personally- so it really raises a few eyebrows and turns a few heads when I tell people that we are piloting a cart of HP Chromebook 14s this year at our elementary school.
And my response even when the learning curve feels particularly steep: “It’s not about the device; it’s about the learning.” (I first read similar words/ideas on Sylvia Tolisano’s blog a few years back, and they stuck with me.)
What do we want kids to learn in the core curriculum? Figure that out, and then choose your device to meet those objectives.
That’s exactly why we are trying to diversify at school with AirBooks, iPad Minis and Chromebooks – oh, my!
From a management/set-up point of view, it’s been tough. It’s a whole new world of setting permissions and having Chromebooks behave the way that we want them. Often forgetting these devices are not laptops! Going Google also has added a new layer.
New possibilities, new decisions; No where near perfection. But that’s OK. We ask students to take risks every day. It’s my turn. I’m sure that I will be filling this blog with lots of trials and tribulations with hopefully some great integration examples.
In the spirit of sharing, here are a few ideas/resources and scenarios that I’ve had to troubleshoot thus far:
1) The class isn’t ready to dive into their Google accounts… so I guess we won’t use the Chromebooks.
Knowing that our Google log-ins are quite lengthy, it will take a while for our third graders to get the knack for logging in. Therefore, I want us to be little kid user-friendly” with the Chromebooks by setting them up with a “public session“. Essentially, a log-in box appears on the main screen for students to click on and gain quick access to the Chrome Browser. (I named our public session “student” to mirror our student account on the laptops.) Why do I like this option versus just having students browse as a guest? I have discovered that you can not set a home page for guest. That essentially means the user has to start typing in an address or do a search. Not really desirable with young students. A public session lets us set a home page (just like our laptops’ browsers) that will be familiar and safe for students as they navigate through links on that page to the desired destination.
2) It says that the network is not available… what’s going on?
One of the first things I now show students when we get an orientation on the Chromebooks is how to choose a WiFi signal (AirPort). Coverage is definitely something that I will be discussing with tech support as these devices seem to require a much stronger signal. I have found that by empowering students to troubleshoot the switching of AirPorts has helped enormously with the flow of their work (and keeping my sanity).
3) Do your prep.
Not all websites will work on Chromebooks due to plug-ins. Make sure to check out the desired site ahead of time on the device. It will save you a lot of time and frustration. This also is an area I have to do some more investigating to see if policies can be set up in management… <An hour later>… OK: I did a little looking around Admin Console and noticed that you had to enable plug-ins. Looks like some sites that I didn’t think worked are now in business… see it’s a work in progress!
Any advice or thoughts from others who have been on this journey?