"They've been going pretty well for us this year," said Patti Jones, technology director at the Senath-Hornersville School District. "We've been please with how they've worked and how the kids have taken to them."
The Chromebooks, laptop computers featuring Google's Chrome Operating System, took the place of all textbooks for the freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors in August when the 2012-2013 school year began. Each student was assigned a Chromebook, along with a carrying case that the new laptops must be carried in.
"I think that that's probably helped a whole lot on breakage," Jones said. "We're glad that we got those."
The Chromebooks, valued at $394 each, are engraved with the Senath-Hornersville logo on the cover, and the carrying case, valued at $35 each, is color coded by grade level and also has an identification tag attached to the front, with the students name. The freshman received black cases, the sophomores received blue cases and the juniors and seniors received red cases.
Jones held a meeting in July of 2012 for parents of the students to speak about what the parents and students could look forward to, with using the Chromebooks. Each parent and student were required to sign a "responsibility form" before the students received the Chromebook. At this meeting, parents were told about the opportunity to purchase insurance for the laptop in the event of any damages and/or loss of equipment.
Students are required to have the laptop computers charged and ready to go for classes in the morning. The Chromebook has a battery life of approximately eight and a half hours, just the capacity needed for a school day. "They've gotten used to them, and now they're just part of their day."
If students are absent, they can proceed with their studies, as the computer does not have to be connected to Internet services to utilize the textbooks and/or complete assignments. The school does however, provide the students with their Internet services as early as 7 a.m., until after school tutoring concludes at 4:30 p.m., each school day. According to Jones, the students enjoy being able to catch up on their homework and not having to keep up with and carry back and forth up to seven separate textbooks and notebooks.
The sites that the students access, the history recorded through Google, can not be deleted and can be accessed by the school at any time.
The computer can only be accessed through a Senath-Hornersville school account. Teachers assign homework through a program called Edmodo, similar to Facebook except Edmodo is a learning social network only for teachers and students to communicate about the assignments. Students then turn their assignments in using this program or Google Docs, Google's office suite competitor to Microsoft Office. Parents can also visit Edmodo to monitor the students homework assignments.
As far as any issues with the computers, Jones said that there is "not any that we didn't expect."
"We expected that there would be some damage, just because you're carrying them around," Jones said. "We've been really pleased. We have had a couple of schools come in and look them over and are interested in how we have set our system up."
As of now, Jones says that the students will continue using the Chromebooks for the next school year, and the district "will only continue to gather more technology, not less."
And although it is unclear as of now what the details consist of, plans are in the works to integrate the middle school into the new technology next year.