Students work with Chromebooks

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Chrome fitted: Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School rolled out a pilot technology program this school year that has students — including these juniors and seniors in a physics class — using Google Chromebooks in the classroom. | Supplied photo

Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School students are toting more than textbooks this school year: some have been issued Google Chromebooks as part of a pilot technology program.

Juniors in the school’s Gifted Academy now carry the mini laptops to and from school to help them complete and submit assignments directly to the school network from home. Chrome is essentially a tablet computer — minus a hard drive — that includes a keyboard.

“Students can work on projects in the classroom, then they can seamlessly continue at home while staying connected to their teacher and peers,” says Gary Posing, director of Computer Services.

The school also added three classroom carts of Chromebooks — one math classroom, one social science and one English — where students check out the machine to use during class time. They log in at the start of class, complete assignments and log out before moving on to their next class.

These advances are part of a planned, potential further roll-out of the Chromebooks, Posing says.

Digital citizens

According to Brian Dvorkin, the school’s classroom technology facilitator, H-F decided on the Chromebook trial because of the product’s ease of use, security and affordability.

“The Chromebooks are easy to maintain and support. They arrive preloaded in the box with the Google applications our students and teachers need, and they connect automatically to our network,” he says. “We can update them remotely, and they offer a high degree of safety and security.”

Teachers have been using Google applications such as Google Drive and Google Calendar at H-F for the past three years; all H-F students were issued their own Google email accounts this school year.

“For the kids, there was almost no learning curve,” explains Posing. “They are learning how to become responsible digital citizens and are learning how to communicate in the real world.”

He says the school will be evaluating the pilot program in the second semester with feedback from students and teachers.

What about the popular iPad? H-F currently has a few iPad carts that are used in the H-F Library and a few classrooms, primarily for creative classes. For example, the Industry of Music class has been using iPads this semester to create music using its GarageBand application. The library recently used the iPads QR code reader to create a scavenger hunt for students to help them navigate through the library’s collection.

“The privilege of using both iPads and Chromebooks in our students’ educational setting is effectively a necessity in the 21st century,” says Dvorkin. “We need to determine if the use of these devices substantially improves education for our students and teachers and, if so, whether one device offers our students advantages over the other.”

Provided by Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School