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Collingswood Schools Considering Google Chromebooks for Students

The district is moving closer to a technology initiative that would put a flash-based laptop in the hands of every student.

The Google Chromebook will likely be the device of choice for the Collingswood school district. Credit: Google.
The Google Chromebook will likely be the device of choice for the Collingswood school district. Credit: Google.
Collingswood schools are continuing to push towards a district-wide student technology initiative for 2014, as leaders offered a bit more clarity on the devices in question at the final meeting of the board of education in 2013.

Collingswood is "leaning towards [Google] Chromebooks," said Superintendent Scott Oswald, for their "cost, convenience" and ability to support web-based educational initiatives.

"A lot of teachers already use Google Docs" for lessons, Oswald said, making the devices a likely fit for educators.

Although district leaders are still deciding at which grade level to debut the laptops—sixth-graders are still the front-runners in talks—they are in agreement that the flash-based Chromebooks are the way to go, the superintendent said.

Oswald said the district estimates about 140 to 150 students will be in its sixth grade next year.

The Chromebooks, which have an approximate cost of $279 apiece, will support "95 percent of what we need to do" with minimal support and maintenance cost to the district, Oswald said.

Furthermore, Comcast offers $10-a-month broadband Internet to children in households that are eligible for free and reduced lunch, Oswald said.

"Not many take advantage [of the program], and our thought is that there is no need because there isn’t a device at home," Oswald said. "If a child brings a laptop home every day,[that might change]."

The Board of Education first announced its intention to pursue a student technology initiative in August.
Kevin December 17, 2013 at 07:53 AM
Gimmick, and just wait until the kids are able to get around the security and play the game of the month. Kids playing Angry Birds in class? On Facebook? What happens to those tablets that are left home for the day? What do the kids do? What about those that get broken at home? Maybe there are more details that we haven't heard yet, but seems like a big investment with no real handle on how to support and manage. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/26/20709211-los-angeles-schools-halt-off-campus-ipad-use-after-students-hack-tablets
Collingswoodnative December 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM
"Why don't you have your homework done", asked the teacher? "The dog ate my chromebook" he answered.
Mel Sharples December 17, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Any possibility Google will offer these at a discount? Getting early brand loyalty is priceless. No idea why people are complaining about this - getting kids familiar with technology is of the utmost importance and needs to be a core aspect of education. $279 may sound like a lot, but what do text books (out of date by the time of delivery) cost? Those are a total waste of money.
Kevin December 17, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Mel. I work in higher education technology, and I am very pro technology where appropriate. I am on about 2-3 different college campuses every week with work. Granted this is higher ed vs middle school, but on college campuses, at least 1/3 of the classes I observe are doing anything but classwork or even school work. While the technology textbooks are easily update-able by the publishers, there are still costs associated with non-print media, it is not free. The district still has to buy or rent the books, and there are also the costs associated with the Chromebooks from purchase, warranty, support, and loss. A $50K+ investment that the kids are already familiar with the technology? The majority of these kid's parents have had iPhone/Droid type touch screen devices for years, and have grown up playing/using them.
Sean Andrew December 17, 2013 at 02:51 PM
This is a great move! Technology is a natural tool for today's kids. Let's unleash the power. Kudos to all involved. When I was in school 20 years ago 30% of the students were doing anything but what they should and we hardly had electricity.
CAC1031 December 17, 2013 at 04:19 PM
There is software that allows teachers to monitor the screens of their students on one display so it would be difficult for them to be off on their own favorite sites during class. Also Chromebooks have excellent central management tools with which administrators can control what is allowed on the devices---the security on these is virtually impossible to circumvent, unlike with ipads and other computers systems.
Mel Sharples December 17, 2013 at 04:30 PM
We are talking about using technology as a tool, not for leisure. That's what would be new. And valuable. Key, of course, is tailoring the curriculum to leverage the technology. As for value, what does a full set of textbooks cost per child over the course of several years? I'd suspect more than $279. My issue with your post is the use of the term "gimmick", which seems a tad extreme. And I am not sure I get the argument that because the computers could be used for non-schoolwork that somehow makes them inherently inefficient /unworkable in this scenario. We let our kids have pen and paper despite the fact that they could doodle on them. There are resources available in the school is the kids forget their books. Your concerns about maintenance and support are worthy points, no doubt. I question if those will be minor.
Sean Andrew December 17, 2013 at 05:21 PM
HAHAA Mel - brilliant point about the pen and paper ! Kids have been doodling for years.
Kevin December 17, 2013 at 05:32 PM
It is a gimmick, it is technology program made for marketing material. Technology companies for years have been touting their wares revolutionizing the classroom. From the typewriter, to the Apple IIe, vhs/dvds, now tablets. Are they cool, yes, do they make a significant difference whether students learn or not...No, the teachers do. If this gimmick program is going to be successful, then teachers need to be effectively trained on how to teach from a tablet because it is different. Guess what? More costs to the program there. This program is not just $279 x 150 students
Mel Sharples December 17, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Human behavior is away from print and towards technology of this nature. Period. End of story. Its how people consume information and media. The classroom must reflect the real world. To say that this is a marketing gimmick by a public school system (that isn't under threat of losing 'market share') also seems to be a major disconnect. And the "easy" move is continue to waste money on text books and printed learning resources, because that's 'business as usual' that doesn't get written up in a Patch article. So you can't even say Mr. Oswald's motives are about marketing. To compare a typewriter to a tablet or laptop?
Mel Sharples December 17, 2013 at 07:16 PM
And Kevin - good teachers will be successful with this, bad ones won't. Smart students with involved parents will be successful with this, their less-advantaged classmates won't. On that I totally agree with you - but that doesn't mean you turn your back on new and innovative ways of educating.
Kevin December 17, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Mel, obviously we have different views on this technology, and we will not agree. We will see down the road, not in one year, but multiple years how successful or gimicky this project is. And yes at the time typewriters were considered revolutionary and game changing in business and education. Didn't quite catch on in the classroom other than typing or secretarial classes.
rdinofa December 18, 2013 at 09:44 AM
Who will pay for this? Oh, that's right the taxpayers? I can't afford another dime on these outrageous taxes we pay.

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