Ask a public school administrator about a cost effective way to try to go 1:1 in a school, and the odds are a good many of them will say to buy Chromebooks. We had the privilege of being asked to come to a school to pioneer paperless classrooms. We were always known as those teachers who were out there, dancing around the room, doing whatever we could to keep kids engaged. We were also known as those who were always looking for new ways to engage students. To us, this sounded perfect.
As our new school year started, we had our carts full of Chromebooks, we had plans, we were ready to roll. While there were certainly people who were naysayers, we were fortunate. We had tons of support. We had great administrators, a great tech director, and a great group of technicians that did their best to keep us up and running.
What about the devices themselves? We were given 30 Samsung Chromebooks each. Right off the bat, I worried. They felt light, flimsy, and cheap. I confess, I could not have been more mistaken. We took care to have set procedures with our students. We showed them how to handle them, how to carry them, and how to treat them. I likened them to babies. Handle them like you would a baby, and we will be fine. These things, while looking lightweight and flimsy, stood up to the test of time, and performed way better than I could have ever imagined.
We fired up the Chromebooks the second day of school, and used them essentially EVERY day of the year with few exceptions. They were opened and closed time and time again, each and every day. I can proudly say, that in 2.5 years, not a single hinge has broken. They have held up in that regard far better than I expected. We have had a few Chromebooks that developed a problem with the screen not being visible with the lid in certain positions, but those were few few.
By the middle of our first school year, our kids were running at full speed in a paperless classroom. Our school bought a few more carts of Chromebooks. This time, more Samsungs and some Acers as well. Within weeks, we were hearing horror stories about keys falling off, mouse pads peeling up, etc. Moral of the story? Teach your kids how to handle the equipment, and set the expectation that they will take care of their equipment.
Fast forward to today. After more than 2.5 years of constant, almost daily use, we have had very few Chromebooks go out of service. Do they look like they are 2.5 years old? Well, they don’t look brand new, but they still look pretty darned good considering all of the openings, closings, putting in and out of the cart, etc. If I had to give one area where we have noticed a major decrease, it would be battery life. We have gone from our Chromebooks lasting 8 or more hours a day to being lucky to get half a day out of the batteries. Next year, we are going to have to have students charge their devices during our planning period we fear. Still, a small price to pay for being paperless.
All in all, I think that Chromebooks can be a very viable way to get 1:1 computing in school. It is far more cost effective than other platforms. You can buy several Chromebooks for the cost of one device if you go with another approach. Please note, I am not saying there is anything wrong with going another way, just that Chromebooks have worked out well for us.
Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions about how we made our Chromebooks work for us or would like to share how you made them work for you.
Image property of Samsung.