Chromebook Q&A

In addition to the slides and archived recording from the webinar on Intel-based Chromebooks, you can now read additional answers to questions posed by attendees. Here they are:

What is the base cost of an Intel Chromebook?

Blanca Duarte: Intel-based Chromebooks vary in cost by manufacturer and features you select. You can reach an Intel technology advisor who can help you select the right device for your learning needs by clicking here.

Can the Chromebook be used for online testing (ie., Smarter Balance, NWEA, ACT, etc...)?

Blanca Duarte: Most online assessments are currently designed for a PC environment, meaning they either require a Linux, Windows or Mac OS X operating system with a connected keyboard and mouse. Many high stakes assessments require a download to the client environment – and this is not feasible when Chrome is your “OS”.  The two CCSS consortia have gone to great lengths to support a broader array of assessment platforms, including the most recent Chromebooks, but it would be prudent to check with your assessment vendors directly on Chrome compatibility, as many of the other online assessments are not yet chrome compatible.

Donna, I see you use Hapara in Richland Two. Do you also use the Remote Desktop component or just the Teacher Dash board?

Donna Teuber: We use remote desktop and the teachers love it.

Have you rolled out Chromebooks in large school districts? I'm a teacher with the Chicago Public Schools; third largest in the nation, and I'd like to know if this initiative has been successful in large school districts.

Blanca Duarte: Yes, we worked on the Passaic Public Schools Chromebook initiative. We provided lots of support, much of it in leadership development and professional development - building capacity with staff. There are also excellent models like Richland Two, which is rolling out 22,000 devices this year. Donna Teuber is an excellent resource. In addition, NYC and LA have both recently published RFPs that are looking at Chromebooks as options.

What evidence is there that using these devices have increased/improved learning?­

Scott Jacumin: It is difficult to measure the impact on academic achievement because there are so many other factors that affect learning outcomes. What we know for sure is that our student’s communication and collaboration skills have increased. They are also becoming more digitally literate when it comes to discerning bias, point of view and validity.

Donna Teuber­­­­: We're involved with an ongoing process and outcome evaluation and are seeing positive results.­ We’re working with a team from the University of South Carolina called Getting to Outcomes (GTO). The GTO team has administered yearly teacher, student, and parent surveys; conducted classroom observations; conducted focus groups; and administered the 21st assessment to 5th graders. We're seeing significant increases in student engagement and are also seeing teachers begin to use deeper levels of technology integration. A major part of the successful implementation of our 1:1 initiative was the use of a Quality Implementation Tool, which outlined the duties and responsibilities of all team members and provided a checklist of items needed for quality implementation at each school. Our team worked closely with school administration and school Technology and Learning Coaches to ensure that the process was being implemented effectively. By focusing on the checklist for quality implementation, our team was able to assist all schools with the successful roll out of 1:1 computing. Through district surveys to students, teachers and parents, data was used to inform school administrators and Technology and Learning Coaches so that course corrections could be made as needed.

Is the value-add of Hapara a real game changer with Chromebooks (and Chrome), or is it something that one can do without for cost reasons

Blanca Duarte: I know many districts use Doctopus for file management – it’s a little different than Hapara but still a good option without cost.

Do you see teachers not needing to replace textbooks with eTextbooks, but rather skipping textbook altogether?

Donna Teuber­­­­: We’re seeing a trend of teachers pulling together a variety of digital resources in a LMS environment and relying less on textbooks and etextbooks.

Scott Jacumin: Teachers definitely need digital resources without traditional textbooks. However, resources vary depending on grade level and curriculum. We have moved from a one-to-one initiative to a digital resource initiative where our Curriculum and Instruction department are vetting and implementing resources for our teachers.

Blanca Duarte: There are many different models of digitizing curriculum being implemented in schools. We have a toolkit at the K-12 Blueprint site on this topic to help schools plan effective transitions to digital instructional materials.

You are able to host virtual Windows OS's on the Chromebook? That's very do you do this? Seems like the best of both worlds.

Donna Teuber: We use VMWare for VDI with Ericom Accessnow­ (Editor’s note: Google just announced purchase of VMware, making this an even more viable option in the future -- click this link for more information.)

What does the $30 for lifetime management cover? Is it like a warranty if there are problems over the course of its life?

Blanca Duarte: The $30 gives you access to the online Chrome management panel. The agreement term for the management license for the device is 36 months, but is processed as auto-renewal and therefore does not expire. What does expire from the End-of-Life date is the potential to not automatically receive updates to the OS and technical support. With that, most of the End of Life dates listed are estimated and will be either that date or later. The OS may continue to receive updates after End of Life, but it is just not guaranteed. For EOL information on devices you are considering purchasing- see this link.

If you are budget planning, what do you use for a refresh time frame for Chromebooks?  3 years? 4 years?

Blanca Duarte: Three years is probably a more viable refresh expectation. Most Chromebooks do not have removable or easily replaceable batteries -- so over time, your student’s Chromebooks might lose the ability to hold a 10-hour charge. By the end of three years, you could probably still use the Chromebook, but it would likely have to be plugged in frequently to stay charged.

Has anyone used touch screen Chromebooks with kindergarten students?

Blanca Duarte: I haven't used the Acer C270P with kindergarteners yet but I will say, for adults, the touchscreen makes it one of my favorite CB experiences -- and it's only about $300! However, you should be aware that, at this time, Chrome touch is for scrolling and sizing the screen image; the experience is not the same as a Windows 8, Android or IOS touch experience.

How do handle 'terms of use' with Google apps that are available within the Google Education Suite, keeping in mind FERPA laws?

 Blanca Duarte: A few years back there was a terrific presentation by Dr. Mark Wagner that addressed that issue. The apps are FERPA compliant but Google does not make promises that the data in their cloud will stay inside the U.S. and some education customers choose other options because they would prefer to have their student data stay in the U.S. or, in some cases, in a private cloud housed in-state. There have been some reports on Google mining student data by (see this link) but none of these uses violates FERPA policies- so it really depends on how tightly you want to control who can access your students’ usage in online environments. 

The Lenovo chromebooks are quite heavy compared to the Samsung.  Have you noticed many being dropped?

Scott Jacumin: Students drop devices all the time. That’s why it was imperative that we chose one that could withstand significant impact. Lenovo’s recently unveiled 11e Chromebook has a thinner form factor but retains many of the ruggedized features that we love about the 131e. (Editor’s note: The new Lenovo models are due out in May; see for more information.)

We are concerned about student security and privacy. How do you folks assure that specific types of student data are available only to those who should have it?

Blanca Duarte: There are several protections that you can put in place. Some will be controlling certain apps and setting defaults to "always create private documents" You can also invest in 3rd party tools like Securly or Cloudlock.

Would the student email accounts have to be created  under our Google domain or can they have a generic gmail account?

Blanca Duarte: If you want to truly control your student experience (and comply with CIPA) you'll want them to have domain-related emails. You can use AD Sync if you have it set up to easily sync accounts.

Other than professional training, do you have specific sites/blogs etc. that you send your teachers to for ideas, training, and so on?

Blanca Duarte: You can consider the Intel Teach Elements courses - they are free elearning courses that you can do on your own or download for use in your own LMS. Find out more at Google also has application e-learning for educators that they recently launched on their education site.

So sites that need Java just don't work?

Blanca Duarte: That is correct. It is important as you select devices that you test compatibility with the sites and instructional resources used in your schools. You can’t make assumptions that if something works on a Windows or Mountain Lion device it will port over to Chrome, IOS or Android without issues.

Donna, could you please share your digital starter kit with us?

Donna Teuber: Sure, it’s at:

Do students take the devices home?  How do you handle issues such as students that forget to charge their devices or forget it at home?

Scott Jacumin: Our 6th through 12th grade students are issued the device for the school year. When we first began we were worried about many questions such as this. We treat the student computer just like any other piece of school property entrusted to the student. What would a teacher do if a student didn’t bring their textbook to class? Most student handbooks have existing policies that apply to the use and handling of the device.

Donna Teuber:  Most of our high school students and some of our middle school students take devices home. Teachers and administrators remind students to bring a charged device to school and have procedures in place to address issues when students don’t bring a device to class. Students learn quickly that they may have an alternative paper/pencil assignment if they don’t bring their device to class and they would rather participate fully by bringing a charged device to school.

Blanca Duarte: These are common issues in 1-1 deployments. Some devices, like the Lenovo 131e, have removable batteries, so you can have extra charged batteries on hand to swap out when a device comes in un-charged. Because the Chrome environment is primarily in the cloud, some schools buy extra Chromebooks so when a student has an issue, they can use a loaner and get their work. However, the best solutions include engaging families in the planning process for your implementation so that students, parents and guardians all understand the importance of the device to the learning process and plan to have it charged and ready to go at the beginning of each school day. Examples of how to plan for a 1-1 deployment can be found at the K12 Blueprint: See (At Least) 101 Tips for Going 1:1 or BYO and the BYOD Toolkit.​


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