I have been meaning to blog more often this summer, and haven't done so. The last couple of weeks I have been deep into learning about Google Chromebooks and Google Drive (which I was familiar with) and how to use them in the classroom. My school is going to be a 1:1 Chromebook this year as part of a pilot program. I was asked to be on the technology committee, so I have been at many meetings planning logistics and rollout procedures, as well as staff professional development.
I have learned several things from this Chromebook experience, before school has even started, and I will definitely keep you posted as the year goes along.
1) Roll out and logistics procedures are critical for things to go smoothly.
We have spent a lot of time developing procedures for checking in and out the chromebooks, labelling them, determining what the procedures will be for late entry and early dismissal students, where they will be stored and how to access them, how to carry and store them, etc. These clearly stated and communicated guidelines and procedures will (hopefully) eliminate a lot of problems later on. The same is true in the classroom! It is so important to think through all of these details and what-ifs ahead of time, and to develop, organize, and communicate with your students.
2) Staff training, comfort level, and staff being on the same page is also critical.
The IT Department from the district came to do some training with us. They began by stating that they expected people to be anxious and fearful, or opposed. Our staff was mostly not. They were very excited. We have a great staff. However, I think a lot of the positive attitude was also due to keeping people informed ahead of time, providing resources and training so they are comfortable, and providing ongoing support and training so they know they won't be lost. I think people are much more likely to try something new when they are comfortable and feel successful in what they are doing, and know that they will have support.
Again, the same in true in the classroom!
3) I think this technology has the power to change the classroom, as we know it.
I used a smartboard, and powerpoint, but I don't use them extensively. They are a great way to present graphics and diagrams, or do whole class instruction, but most of the best educational practices are not geared around whole class instruction with the teacher at the front of the room. If you are using these technologies a lot, I fear that is what is happening.
Google drive, however, offers a way for teachers to spend less time copying and organizing work, and for students to keep their work organized. It automatically saves, and teachers can provide templates or work to students to complete right in their Drive. It also offers real time collaboration, commenting, and feedback, as well as research resources immediately in the hands of every student. It allows them to look up information, search for help, spell check, create documents, critique each other's documents, and watch videos or take notes, somewhat at their own pace. They can go back and edit, go ahead, or re-watch something. I also see many opportunities for individualization and differentiation, from additional research questions to apps that allow text to be read, or making the screen size different or changing contrast.
I am really excited about this opportunity, and I hope my students are too!