Why use chromebooks
The reasons a Chromebook has been chosen as the most effective option for the junior school include:
- reasonable cost
- very fast start up (getting to the learning quicker)
- all day battery life
- Work both offline and online (contrary to general perception)
- continued quick performance over lifetime of device
- no viruses or malware
- integration with Google Apps for Education
- They do not run applications that can slow down a school network such as bittorrent and Steam
There is significant debate in some communities about the relative merits of using Google Apps products compared with Microsoft Office products. The argument is often made that to prepare students for the workplace, they need to be using “industry standard” applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel. Our philosophy is that the most important thing is to learn how to use the key functions of these tools in a wide range of settings, rather than learning a specific program. Both Google and Microsoft products are available for use at Riccarton High School, but we have found that the Google suite of applications offers a more seamless experience that allows students to:
- Get to the learning faster
- Collaborate and share more effectively
- Understand the key functions in a simple and intuitive environment
- Transfer their skills and work to Microsoft products when needed
The most up-to-date New Zealand research around the use of Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education currently comes from the Manaiakalani Evaluation Programme which is one of the most comprehensive and well funded research programs across a cluster of schools in New Zealand.
The cluster involves 11 primary, intermediate and secondary schools in Auckland. The programme begun in 2007 and has developed into a significant body of research over the last 9 years.
The principal Auckland University researchers are Dr. Rebecca Jesson, Professor Stuart McNaughton and Dr. Aaron Wilson. If you would like to read about their most current report, please click here.
There are considerable, proven learning benefits to be gained from students having guided access to Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education.
The graph below is from Tamaki College which is a decile 1 school in Auckland that is part of the Manaiakalani cluster. This school uses the Google platform with Chromebooks. These technologies were used from 2011 onwards. The graph shows a clear increase in academic results for NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3.
A key message from the study is that having digital devices is not as important as how they are used to challenge thinking and create learning.
Our teachers have been involved in a range of training programs over the last 3 years around the use of digital technologies in the classroom and the use of Google Apps in particular. We have gained a number of insights into how to best use these technologies and have made some very encouraging observations around student engagement.