Chromebooks now a staple of the East Campus classroom

Educators, students look ahead with excitement, wariness

Society+has+been+quick+to+implement+devices+and+technology+as+fast+as+it+can+in+the+classroom.+The+aftereffects%2C+however%2C+are+sometimes+difficult+to+pin+down.+

Society has been quick to implement devices and technology as fast as it can in the classroom. The aftereffects, however, are sometimes difficult to pin down.

Alex Tsymbalisty, Perspective Editor

Over the course of the last five years many schools have been implementing 1:1 programs, giving students an electronic device which they can use wherever and whenever they want.

Lake Park’s very own 1:1 program officially started last year, with the pilot program concluding the year before. The pedagogy behind this decision is still debated in professional circles, but it would seem Chromebooks are here to stay.

Before delving into the inner workings of the 1:1 program at Lake Park it is important to know the logic behind it. Each students gets a laptop to do assignments, worksheets, and even tests with. But the idea goes further.

The underlying purpose is to motivate learning and create a personalized experience for each student. Not only does this system cater to individual students better than any single teacher could, but it also motivates students by giving them a way to find information on their own via the internet.

However the 1:1 program isn’t perfect. Some have called it the “$1000 pencil” initiative. Others have said that these devices are useless without proper implementation and are often times more a drain on resources than a way to improve learning.

Science teacher Kara Roll actually led the pilot program two years ago in her biology classes and said the experience was largely positive. According to Roll the Chromebooks have been a huge improvement from the years without Chromebooks.

“(We used them a) minimum of two days a week” she said.

She also said her classroom uses the CBs for research, collaboration using Google docs, and even quizzes. It seemed that her classroom was using Chromebooks to their fullest.

Roll did point out that, once the 1:1 program reaches West Campus, where there is less segregation of grade levels, there may be issues due to the Chromebook disparity.

Roll also said that she believed there would be a resurgence of the touch screen- especially in math classes. She told me that the static keyboard on the Chromebook limited their use in math based classrooms. Would Lake Park ever do a 2:1 system with Chromebooks and some sort of tablet? Only time could tell.

English teacher Aaron Sandberg gave another side of the Chromebook initiative at Lake Park, with stories of at least a handful of kids every day who don’t charge their Chromebook or just out and out forget to bring it to school.

In a classroom which uses Chromebooks every day, the implications of not having their learning tools handy are not hard to imagine. When asked about abuses of the Chromebooks, Sandberg said there was sometimes goofing around, chat rooms, or visiting inappropriate websites–standard fare for a freshman class.

However, Sandberg also spoke glowingly of high return rates of work, productivity increases, and an overall improvement compared to the old system. Specifically he talked about not having to print papers, and the convenience of everything being in one place.

When asked about the transition from East to West with the 1:1 initiative, Sandberg was more optimistic. He pointed out that West has Chromebook carts and said that most people had smartphones anyway. Sandberg had a sobering comment.

“Right now (the latest thing is) the Chromebook,” he said. “The laptop is the way we can kind of access a lot of our curriculum. In the future, I don’t know–it might all be implanted into our brains, or some Apple watch technology, or Google Glass, or some kind of augmented reality. The possibilities are endless and terrifying.”

It would seem clear at the very least that Chromebooks are useful and serve their purpose quite well, when used responsibly. However, it is clear that Chromebooks alone are not going to help students in their education. Chromebooks are like paintbrushes. A paintbrush alone, no matter how good, will never produce a beautiful piece of art. Only with a skilled artist can a paintbrush make a masterpiece. I

n this case the artists are the teachers who need to adequately design their curriculum to use the Chromebook to their full effect. Only then can we expect to produce a better classroom and more importantly, better prepared students.