Thames Valley Chromebook Pilot

Bringing technology into the classroom is one of the best ways to provide students with a learning environment which promotes global competencies. Chromebooks are increasingly being incorporated into schools because they boost students' capabilities of learning anytime, and anywhere. Online access in classrooms significantly broadens the scope of any learning exercise, triggering information pursuit, creative thinking, communication, and collaboration.

This past fall, Thames Valley launched a pilot distributing Chromebooks to students enrolled in grade 9 courses and their teachers at seven secondary schools. Staff members engaged in professional leanring in order to augment their abilities to integrate technology into their instructional practices. The students will have use of the Chromebooks next year in their grade 10 courses as well.

Next year, the pilot will be expanded to include the incoming grade 9 students as well. It is intended that the success of the Pilot Project will lead to support for system-wide implementation of this learning tool in the secondary panel.

Chromebooks have been gaining popularity since being introduced to the market a few years ago. Their ability to integrate with G-Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), portability, easy set up and affordable price point makes them a no-brainer choice for schools.

"When you are rolling out a one-to-one initiative to thousands of students, cost plays a significant role in the decision," says Marion Moynihan, Superintendent of Information Technology and Library Resources at Thames Valley. "Aside from lower hardware costs, the ability to use web-based applications and avoid software license fees makes them a good choice."

Another incentive is that the widespread adoption of Chromebooks helps equalize access to information. "For many students, the school-issued Chromebook is the only device in their families," says Marion. "Providing students with a personalized Chromebook lessens the impact of economic disparity in our schools and ensures that all students are given the same resources for instruction and growth."

According to Tiffany Birtch, Principal at College Avenue Secondary School, Chromebooks offer more than access to online resources. They help engage students with interactive lessons and prepare them for an increasingly digital workforce. "In today's age, computer literacy is an integral component of any student's learning plan. By providing students with access to the Internet they gain unprecedented access to resources and information," says Tiffany.

The increased security of Chromebooks over laptops is another important factor. Because Chromebooks store everything in the Google cloud, the machines are less vulnerable to computer viruses or data loss than traditional notebooks. "Students don't need to worry about backing up their documents. When the student logs in, all their documents are easily acceseed," explains Marion.

As we strive to prepare our students for their futures, it is hoped initiatives such as the Chromebook Pilot Projectwill provide our students with the tools and skills they need to succeed.  

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