School Board Considers One-to-One Chromebooks for BHS Students

Alex Mintz

Alex Machtay was one of the sophomores randomly selected to test a Google Chromebook this spring.

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After running a pilot program this spring, the Beachwood Board of Education will vote in mid-June on a technology plan for the 2013-14 school year that would include one-to-one Google Chromebooks for all BHS students.

As for the purpose of the program, Technology Director Ken Veon wrote in an email, “ [It is} for technology to enhance learning in the high school. [The focus is] not about the technology but the learning.”

Should the program be approved, it will be of little cost to students.

“We are looking at a minimal insurance cost with a deductible if students break the machines. Right now, we are proposing $25 per student to start up, and $50 for the deductible, depending on the severity of the damage,” Veon wrote.

The pilot program that began in mid-Feb. distributed Chromebooks and iPad Minis to a random group of BHS sophomores.

“We are looking at the efficiencies of iPads in class settings and the efficiencies of Chromebooks,” Asst. Principal Paul Chase said.

“They use it as much as they can in all different capacities, learning inside the classroom and outside,” Veon wrote.

Every couple of weeks, participating students have taken a survey to determine which machine is more effective.

Sophomores Tamarea Townes and Danielle Adelstein participated in the pilot program.

Adelstein, who used the iPad Mini said, “[The iPad Mini] is really great [compared to] the Chrome laptops. It is a lot easier to read books, it helps me with note taking and I find myself checking my grades more often.”

Sophomore Maria Alvarez, iPad Mini user, thought the iPad was flawed but nevertheless helpful.

“It would be nice to have a bigger keyboard; however, it helps me be more proactive in school,” Alvarez said.

“The Chromebooks help me, especially with projects in Mr.Butler’s class because of Google Docs. I would definitely get a Chromebook over an iPad because I believe that all we would do is play games. With Chromebooks you can actually [do school work],” said Townes.

Over the course of the pilot program, the Board of Education has considered the effectiveness of iPad Mini and Chromebook use in schools. After much deliberation, the Board decided, should the program go into effect, students will receive Chromebooks.

With the Cromebook selling for $249 and the MacBook averaging about $1000, the district could buy three or four Chromebooks for the price of one MacBook.

Moreover, with the school moving towards Google compatibility by using Google Drive and Gmail, the pilot program showed that Google’s Chromebook may work better for educational purposes.

“[The] Chromebook is a better device for high school students because of the note taking and the emails, sharing of docs and looking up information on the internet,” Veon wrote.

According to math teacher Leena Malik, the math department is considering replacing textbooks with ebooks.

Some are skeptical of the value of Chromebooks.

“The only thing you can do on Chromebooks is use the Internet, so if you don’t have internet access, there is no point in even having a Chromebook,” sophomore Marilyn Farley said.

Since teachers have received new MacBook Pros and the math department has received new iPads this school year, many students think it is time they be included in the technology upgrade as well.

“If students don’t have a laptop with the newest technology, then it should be provided… I need to use a laptop for at least one assignment every day because everything is computerized,” freshman Jessica Tall said.

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