2014-12-05 / Community

Students make quick use of Chromebooks

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – With students completing their second month of one-to-one technology, the integration of Google Chromebooks at Kennebunk High School has gone smoothly.

Approximately 725 Chromebooks were distributed throughout the school Sept. 18. Already, the differences are apparent, said Jamie Jensen, director of technology for Regional School Unit 21.

Jensen said students have uploaded more than 20,000 files with the new Chromebooks and initiated almost 20,000 more Word documents with the capabilities of the new devices.

“I think that’s a good indication that they’re being used,” Jensen told the board at Monday’s meeting.

“It’s one of the most wonderful things that has happened to Kennebunk High School,” said Principal Sue Cressey. The most amazing thing, Cressey said, was that during the block of classes directly following the advisory period when the Chromebooks were distributed, she and other administrators visited several classrooms and “the kids and teachers were already using them.”

With the Chromebooks, students and teachers can access most of the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Students can also access most textbooks with their Chromebooks and much of the testing scheduled for the spring can be done on the devices, Jensen said.

“We were ready for them,” Cressey said. “It’s the integration of technology, technology is not a destination … technology’s being used as a natural tool.” Cressey equated using Chromebooks to “having a pen or pencil back in the olden days.”

“It’s really brought us into the 21st century. In this day and age, they don’t want to have to write out their homework if they’re going to go home and do it on the computer,” Cressey told the board. “It was the most seamless integration of technology I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Tim Walsh, who is the student representative on the board, agreed the process was painless for students. He told members that he walked into his advisory class at 9:05 a.m. and, by 10:30, he and his classmates were using the devices to their full capacity. “I heard of no issues,” Walsh said. “And I think that every kid in the school is thankful they have a tool like this every day and that they have a tool everyone else has, so it’s a level playing field,”

Board member Lionel Menard questioned if the Chromebooks are being used equally among students. “Although people may have the device they may not use it to its fullest capacity versus maybe somebody else,” he said. “Are we doing enough to promote that?”

Walsh said it depends on what kind of class is using it. For example, the Chromebook is used differently in a math class than it is in an English class.

“If you know how to use a smartphone you know how to use a Chromebook,” Walsh said. “It’s a device that is perfectly sufficient for the classroom. As the teachers become more comfortable with it, I think that it is equitable and people are using it in an equitable manner.”

In addition, because the Chromebooks operate in a cloud, other devices can access the material as well.

“I think it’s a perfect stepping stone for moving us to one-to-one technology,” said Walsh.

Cressey said, “Maybe all the years of anticipation and waiting paid off, because when they came into the building, they were just being used immediately.”

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