Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What Students Say About Chromebooks

  
Directly from the mouths of babes...

Westside High School has rolled out our 1:1 Chromebook Project. It is only 3 weeks into this journey for our school and it seems right to find out how things are going directly from students. The short essays/descriptions below are real students' opinions and feelings about how this initiative has impacted their school and education. Students, teachers and parents have for the most part expressed that the program is going great. As you read the responses, keep in mind that our teachers have had some training sessions using Google and Chromebooks in the classroom. The ideas for classroom use by the students is almost entirely self-motivated. They have found ways that work for them. As the initiative progresses into next year I believe teachers will move from substituting technology for paper to redefining how education will use technology to learn.


Chromebooks Helping Our Education

Halen's Chromebook Analysis

So far, the classes I have used this Chromebook for are AP Biology, Air Force JROTC, and AP Literature & Composition. I also take Spanish II online, so I can do certain activities on the Chromebook for that class as well. In AP Biology we optionally used Docs on the Chromebooks to take notes, as well as used it to make an outline of the steps of Mitosis once. Using these machines adds a more fun and creative side to class writing assignments such as these. I could take notes a lot faster, and the bullet and header functions on Docs allowed me to make a neat looking outline. As a senior in AFJROTC, we plan everything. Our job is to manage the corps. Pretty much any event the unit does has to planned, organized, and equipped by the seniors. With Google Drive we have created an active and effective way of recording our scheduled events and various other things we have to stay on top of, all the while having it shared with all of the seniors. It really is great. In AP Literature & Composition we have mainly used the Chromebooks so far to make a presentation for a project. I honestly used my laptop to finish my presentation instead because Google Drive Presentation lacks the ability to insert music files into the presentation, but it looked like the rest of the class used their Chromebooks. It’s very convenient for assignments such as presentations and such because you can operate a computer right from the comfort and convenience of your desk. We have also begun to use the Chromebook in AP Lit & Comp to read along with certain things online that the class is looking at on the projector. This can also help, say, if you can’t see the board, or at least not very comfortably or easily. Our Poetry Assignments and things can also be made on Docs and shared with our teacher. Having a Chromebook with you can make this a lot easier.
Another pro with the Chromebooks is that they allow you to have the ability to search a lot of information anytime you need to here at school. Say you had a project coming up and needed to research it, or you needed to get online to sign up for your ACT or something like the FAFSA. If you did need to do that stuff, you wouldn't have to worry about going to the library or computer lab and having to wait for a school computer to boot up, or log in, or both. You'd have access to what you need right with you. The Chromebooks could also help students who don’t have internet at home. They can accomplish what they need to on the internet or on Docs while they’re at school without having to go to the computer lab or library.
When used right, the Chromebooks seem like a good addition to some school work. It can be used to make things organized and to put things in order. It can make things quicker and easier. It can also allow you to conveniently do your work and share it online with your teacher. The fact that you can have a free version of Microsoft Word to use at your very fingertips is very convenient.


Kayla


My name is Kayla and as a senior at Westside High School, I find the Chromebooks to be very helpful and convenient. I have many classes this year that require a lot of essays to be typed and information to be researched. For example, as the editor of the school newspaper, I’m constantly having to read and write articles. Always having a computer at my fingertips makes it easier and faster for me to get my job done. Before the Chromebooks, I’d have to complete the majority of my work at home. Working a part-time job after school made finishing my homework not only difficult, but stressful as well. Now that I have a Chromebook, I am able to work on my homework during my study hall class and during my free time. The Chromebook is of huge benefit to me in that it takes no time to start up, it syncs straight to my Gmail, a flash drive is not required, and taking notes in class has never been easier. The fact that the Chromebook is extremely lightweight and easily portable is also a plus. If I had to describe the Chromebook in three words, I would choose “convenient,” “easily portable,” and “time-saving.” I only wish that I had gotten one sooner.



Weston, Senior

Since we have received the Chromebooks, it has significantly helped with my school work.  In most classes we are converting to full use of the Chromebooks and not using as much paper.  I can do most all of my work on them anywhere.  If I have free time in any class, I can pick up working on other assignments for other classes.  I am taking college algebra this semester, and I do a lot of my work on it.  I use it at home every day for homework.  I work on my algebra a lot using it.  I also like how I always have a laptop to type my English papers, and I like how I can submit assignments using Google Docs, so there are no more papers.  My English teacher emails us our bellwork in the afternoon before it is due the next day.  This helps a lot because I can get it finished before class, so I do not have to rush.  Overall, I love having the Chromebooks because of how much easier it makes accessing everything and how much more I am able to work on my school work. 

Spencer, Senior  

    The device known as the “Chromebook” tends to be useful where the alternative, paper or a computer in the computer lab, has proven to be vexsome.  The sudden accessibility is a great boon for projects and assignments that one will have.  It also works well to give one the ability to, even over the weekend, converse more directly with the teacher the specifics of the assignments one’s teacher gives.
     It does go without saying, the Chromebook is a great boon for assignments, giving better organization and more clarity of assignment meanings.  However, the Chromebook is also more than that.  The Chromebook is also a source of entertainment.  Though this may not seem as beneficial to one’s education, it is.  One is able to stimulate one’s own mind through simple games such as “Snake.”  These stimulations keep the mind in action allowing for a mind that more easily receives new information.
    Alongside the value of mind stimulation, for those who can find it, there is also a way to listen to music.  One such site that is not restricted is “Musescore.com.”  Granted, music seems to be a distraction during lectures, it can be used to give one a sense of peace of mind.  The peace can be used to help calm students during free time, and the same calmness can increase productivity during any time allotted, where students can work while listening to music.  
    The other function of the Chromebook is its quick access to the functions of Google drive.  As mentioned prior, this involves easier organization of one’s own assignments.  Although, this also includes the ability to have an easy way to create documents and presentations from any place one may be.  This in itself will change the face of assignments for most classes, save for maths.  It will make for far more paperless assignments.  Alongside this it will also allow for large scale projects being easier to create and research.
    Overall the only thing I disapprove of is the idea that, over time, the devices will become more and more mandatory.  Even some seniors of the first year of the Chromebooks released in Westside find themselves requiring to get one of the devices, by one teacher or another.  Even though devices such as this can tend to be beneficial, people, such as myself, can prove to be slow to embrace new ideas.  In other words, one who is impartial to change is, in some way, forced to obtain a device that he could be adamant against receiving.
    In retrospect, the Chromebooks would not have been better put off by one year.  Distribution of devices in the middle of the year makes them more optional because they are new to the teachers as well.  Even though some teachers still already require it, students can feel more at ease knowing that Chromebook related assignments are still going to be relatively easy and simple for the time being.
    Granted that all these factors tie in together, my overall opinion of the Chromebook boils down to an unnecessary kindness.  They are enjoyable and sometimes helpful devices that in the long run will change the nature of assignments, but in short terms they could be lived without.