Manzanita School District has always been ahead of the game when it comes to computers and the internet – considering Manznet which provided internet service to residents over 20 years ago, thanks to teacher Peter Ingalls.
Fast forward to April 22, 2014 when Chromebooks were handed out to each of the students for their own use.
This innovative K-8 single-school district is leading the north state with top academic API scores along with Common Core Curriculum.
Principal/Superintendent Brad Roberts stated, “We have always had about a 1:3 computer to student ratio at Manzanita. Now we are moving to a 1:1 computer to student ratio. Every student will be assigned their own Chromebook computer with their name on it.”
With no programs available, there will be no way to receive a virus and the Chromebook opens up to the internet in five seconds.
The school will no longer have to pay for updates. Told that Windows XP would no longer offer support it made sense to go this new route for better efficiency and convenience not only for the students but for the teachers also.
The internet-based Chromebook was chosen for a variety of reasons but primarily because the laptop is versatile enough for full time classroom use and would achieve multiple goals. The laptops are lightweight, portable and still have a full sized keyboard.
The Chromebooks run on Google's Chrome OS and applications, like Google Drive, reside in the cloud and are delivered to the Chromebook wirelessly.
Student's work is saved continuously as the student works and updates to applications – including anti-virus software – occur automatically.
Students can take their computers home to complete their homework, even if they don't have internet access at home, by working on their Google documents, similarly to Microsoft Word and Apple Pages. The document will save to their computer and then when they come to school it will be saved directly to the cloud.
The Chromebook means no more flash drives, no more incompatible software bumps. A student can work on their Google doc from their Grandma's Apple computer, continue working on it from their home PC and then continue working on it from their Android or Apple phone.
The cost of each Chromebook was $250 which is inexpensive when considering the cost of updates which are now not needed.
Now, a typing program can be used along with a STAR reading program for students.
Most everything used is web based.
When asked what they wanted their students to have educationally before they graduate, teachers stated they wanted entrepreneurial learners who could take control of their own education.
Manzanita also has a lab set of iPads for specific applications like iMovie as well as wireless access and Apple TV in every classroom and the gymnasium.
Since no server is required now, Roberts can work on Google drive on his phone and keep working on a report whether he is in the office or not.
Presentations can be done along with spread sheets and forms.
Teacher Joanna McClellan has been very instrumental in the process and getting the Chromebooks set up.
“Our teachers are being trained in electronic portfolio development. Students will also be designing their own webpages where their electronic portfolio will exist demonstrating evidence of learning including video, projects, student papers, etc.,” Roberts stated.
As the students work on their papers on the Chromebook, the teachers will have the capability to access and see the progress of the work. Teachers can see when the work was done and make comments when necessary.
Students will no longer have to wait for their papers to be graded.
The school will have total control of the apps used and have access into every student's history. The school can limit where the students go, even when at home.
“Safety is number one,” Roberts explained.
Funding for the $70,000 for the laptops comes from State money to be used for Common Core Curriculum.
Students will now be able to take tests on their laptops with the teacher sending an email of either passing or failing.
The students can respond to teachers with questions or answers, rather than have to raise their hands in front of a whole classroom of their peers.
The 6th and 7th grade Tech Team unpacked each of the 225 Chromebooks and enrolled each one into the Google account after adding to an inventory.
The schools plan is to have the students teach their parents about Google docs next year with safe practices.
“If they can teach it- they know it,” Roberts stated.
“People are always talking about 'Preparing for 21st Century Skills.' The last time I checked, we have been in the 21st century for over a decade. If students don't have access to internet-based learning, integrated with the school setting, we will never produce the confident, responsible, entrepreneurial learner that we have a moral obligation to produce. It's time to advance in these 21st century skills,” Roberts stated.
This new technology was introduced at Back To School Night for a packed gymnasium of parents and students recently with questions and answers about the curriculum and how to keep the students safe.