A Chromebook is a laptop designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and data residing in “the cloud.”
According to Thomas County Schools Technology Director Wes Davis, the demand is high for Chromebooks in education.
“Chromebooks are attractive to school systems, especially because of their low cost, low maintenance, and ease of management,” said Davis. “Adding hundreds of devices at one time would have been nearly impossible in the past. Google has created a centralized management system that allows for rapid changes with no re-imaging, and controls that allow a school system to add applications and bookmarks, manage printing, and restrict website and network access on these devices from one cloud based console,” Davis said.
Getting a Google domain was the first step in the process. Employees now have a new email address and access to Google Apps for Education through the new Google domain.
“The Google domain we created is the tcjackets.net domain,” Davis said. “All students from third through twelfth grades also received tcjackets.net email addresses for educational use.”
“Since our students now use Google apps, we also decided to subscribe to Gaggle Safety Management (GSM) for Google. GSM monitors all e-mails and documents used by the students to protect against inappropriate behavior, bullying, etc. Providing this extra safety net in technology was one criteria we had to meet,” Davis explained.
In the past, it was the goal to have desktop computers for students. Instead of 440 desktops, more than 720 Chromebooks were ordered for the elementary and middle schools. Thomas County Middle School received 16 carts of Chromebooks – four carts for each grade. Last week an additional 728 Chromebooks were ordered thanks to the Striving Readers Grant that Thomas County Schools was awarded. There will be approximately 400 more coming in January. The Chromebooks will allow for two grades at the middle school and one grade at Cross Creek to take the Georgia Milestones test online.
“Using technology in the classrooms has many benefits,” added Davis. “The digital tools available to teachers and students today are endless, and these innovations are important in reaching today’s students who have grown up with most of these digital devices. It helps keep students focused for longer periods of time, makes students more excited to learn, and it enables students to learn at their own pace.”