I am starting to get a lot of email and phone calls by teachers and administrators in my district saying, "I am going to buy Chromebooks for all my teachers instead of laptops!"
To which I reply, "Whoa! Let's be thoughtful about purchasing technology. Let's ask ourselves some important questions before we invest." Shocking, I know...but stakeholders don't always plan for implementation when purchasing. So, I put together some main ideas/questions to consider when you adopt new technology...I am using the Chromebook as my digital tool this time, but I think the ideas can be applied to most any digital tool.
BEFORE you invest, ask yourself:
1. What is the purpose of this tool? Is it for the teacher to use or students? When you answer this question, what tool you need might change. For example, if I am using the Chromebook as a teacher, can I connect it to my interactive technology like SmartBoard, Mimio or Promethean? Can I connect it to my document camera to digitize my work for posting to a blog or website. Can I connect it to a projector to show my students videos, websites and other resources? If I am purchasing this for student use, I might ask how secure I can make it. If students take the device home and connect from a network other than a filtered school network, does the device have any security or privacy options to activate? If the devices will be used as learning tools, are they compatible with our technology-delivered curriculum programs, testing programs and any other delivery systems we might use?
2. How much does it really cost? When purchasing digital tools, there are always other things to consider - adapters, power cords, peripherals and more. Things to consider are connecting peripheral devices like DVD or CD drives, printers, USB hubs, projectors, document cameras and other devices. Does the Chromebook read all of these items and interact with them?
3. Will I know how to use this thing? Providing training and time to learn a new tool is always something that districts talk about but, rarely do districts put the cost of training in with the cost of the tool. Many teachers become frustrated and either stop using the tool or use it only at a very superficial level. If teachers were provided time and training on a new tool, support needs would diminish and the depth of integration would increase.
To be honest, I don't know the answer to a lot of the questions I asked because I don't have a Chromebook yet. My guess is you can't use it with your interactive technology because those companies have not written instructions for a web-based interaction. I don't know if you can print yet, I will just have to play when I get mine. I think you can connect it to a projector, but haven't seen it in real life. I am really interested in how these can be implemented in a classroom, but I want to caution those that hold the purse strings to not be too hasty to save money if the result is a limited device or a device that makes our other tools inoperable.
I have included a few reviews that might get us started on the decision-making path:
All Things Digital
I would love to hear what other educators/technology integration personnel have to say about this new tool!