Saturday Morning Musings: Chromebook Out of the Box

chromebookMy staff and family will not believe this but I actually bought myself a new toy this week (which goes with my two iPads, laptop, iPhone…you get the picture). I have a gadget problem.  The first part of getting help is admitting you have a problem, right?  I was surfing along on my Google Chrome app on my iPad and saw THE AD.  Acer Chomebook, $199! What is $200 dollars when working to solve the great education crisis?  Right? Okay, making excuses will not end my problem, but still……

First Impressions:  A good looking computer.  Plastic, not the metal alloys of my Dell XPS, but it seems durable.  I had to put the battery in out of the box (time elapsed: 5 seconds). I was pleasantly surprised to find the battery charged when I turned it on.  It immediately went into a download mode to update itself.  I honestly do not know how much time it took to do this as I walked away and came back sometime later (about 30 minutes) and the thing was ready to go.  I signed in with my Google account, synchronized Chrome and in under two minutes was using this thing just like my regular computer in my office.  Cold boot up time for writing this post?  38 seconds including typing in my Google password.

As a computer user, I use Google a lot.  I compose and use spreadsheets in Google Drive more than I use the Office 20?? suite on my desktop.  I find it convenient to get to all my “stuff” on whatever computer I am on.  Using a Chromebook fits my habits nicely.  You may not find it as useful if you are not a regular Google apps user.

It has a speaker, not a good one alas, but you can hook a better set of speakers to it.  I plugged it into our library speaker system (totally disrupting a class, but research sometimes is messy), and it sounded fine. I hooked it up to the library SmartBoard and projector.  It worked fine.  Not sure if you can use it with the Smart Notebook. Pretty sure there is no app for that.  Basically, I can use this thing for all my presentations. It has all the capabilities I need.

Drawbacks???  I am sure there are plenty.  You need to have an Internet connection.  There is an offline function for Google Drive.  I have not used it yet……  Battery life may be a concern?  I used it most of yesterday morning for taking notes at an building project meeting and the battery was 70% used after about 3 hours.  I was using Tweetdeck and doing some web-browsing while taking notes on a Google doc.

I am pleased to find so many apps for it.  Evernote, Edmodo, WordPress (I am writing this post using it (except for the picture which I uploaded from my iPhone) and many others.

At this point, I do think this could be used for a school-wide 1:1 deployment.  Might, dare I say, a better choice than iPads????  I am sure the honeymoon will end soon.  Till next time.

goofyIt has a camera with crazy filters.  What more could you ask for?

Mom, you really need to figure out how to find me using Ruzzle.  No one else will play me.

1:1 I Want to Know Your Story

Dear Fellow Educators,

I work with a group of educators in a school that is not flush with resources (imagine that). Money has to be spent very strategically and I am determined not to make the same mistakes we have made in the past.  Twenty years ago we put TV’s and VCR’s in every room because teachers and students needed to access the video that could be provided.  After studying the use pattern, very little changed in the way of pedagogy and student learning.  Five years ago we put interactive white boards in all but a few rooms.  Some teachers have learned to use them very well, but for many it is simply a digital white board.  I am not blaming teachers.  I am blaming short sighted decision making and lack of support provided by administration (read….me, although the tv’s came while I was teaching).  One to one computing gets a lot of attention now days.  I have visited a few buildings where every student has a computer.  I have not spent enough time in any one classroom to see if there has been a transformational change in student learning opportunities.  To be honest, the classrooms where I have seen 1:1 computing,  the activities there still seemed to be very teacher centered. (disclaimer: again, I have not spent enough time in any one classroom or school to make any kind of enlightened conclusion).  What I would like to know from those who are working in schools that have implemented 1:1 initiatives is:

  • 1. What did your district/school do to prepare both students and teachers for learning in a 1:1 environment?
  • 2. How has student learning activity changed in your room/building?
  • 3. How has teacher practice changed?
  •  4. What would you do different if you had it to do over again?

 Picture courtesy of Joe Wilcox’s photostream on Flickr