Three years ago CHS began a program that has become a key part of academics at the school. As the school began to integrate greater use of technology into curriculum, the freshmen class in 2014 was provided with individual Chromebooks to enhance education. Since then, Chromebooks have been distributed to every student on campus and even to the entire middle school.
But how does the district hope to manage the cycle of Chromebooks through the system?
This school year will be the first time that the school goes through a complete cycle with computers.
“The plan for the current seniors’ computers is to distribute them to the elementary classrooms,” says Paul Behan, CUSD’s chief technology officer, who notes that the replacement system is based on the expected lifespan of the computers of four years.
“Since those used by the seniors will be less than two years old, we believe most of them will still have a few good years in them,” Behan remarks. “Some of the elementary classrooms are using the older Ubermix netbooks from a few years ago, so the Chromebooks will be a welcome sight.”
Behan also touches on the plan for the lower grades. On Aug. 5 of this upcoming school year, fifth graders will be issued Chromebooks that they will use through eighth grade. The other process has already been initialized as ninth graders will be issued Chromebooks that they will use through their senior year. The 2016-17 school year will be the final year students will be issued a brand new Chromebook in sixth grade.
All students who will be issued new Chromebooks will be given Acer models, different from the initial Samsung models given to the pilot freshmen class.
As Colin Matheson, the district’s webmaster and ed. tech. trainer, explains, “We discovered that the silver Samsung computers we bought for the first year of Chromebooks were not strong enough to stand up to the wear and tear of being carried around every day by students. The screen cracked a lot and parts of the case were too easy to break off. So we switched to the Acer model since then. This is why it is always good to slowly roll out new technology.”
While the Acer and Samsung Chromebooks were about the same cost, Halbrend explains that “Acer made a better Chromebook. The Samsungs are falling apart and the Acers are much more durable.”
For replacement of the Chromebooks each year due to inevitable drops and breaks, the district budget allots $170,000 yearly for this purpose. Behan explains that this is enough for about 600 new Chromebooks per year, which will help maintain computers throughout the year.
Also, because Chromebook models change so quickly, the district will have to change the model every few years and won’t always know which model will be the best choice for student use.
Initial discussions included the idea of letting the current seniors take their Chromebooks with them. However, the district decided not to go ahead with this plan.
“This year in particular, it does not seem wise to release the computers to the students because the computers are only two years old and have a few useful years ahead of them,” Behan explains. “When using public funds, we have to be careful not to give away things that still have a useful life. That wouldn’t be fair to the taxpayers in the community.”
While the door remains open for future students to keep computers that have exceeded their lifespan, currently the district doesn’t view that plan as efficient for the overall cycle.