Why did we choose Chromebooks? The Chromebook device has four “abilities” that support its use in education. From the perspective of the IT team here at BMHS, the first two abilities are very relevant: “Deployability” and “Supportability.” Chromebooks take, on average, ten minutes to configure per device, making the devices very deployable. When the IT department at BMHS needs to interact with every single device brought to campus; the ability to enroll and deploy the Chromebooks quickly is a huge time saver. The devices are very supportable. Chromebooks are almost self-sustaining and require very little to no interaction from the IT department at BMHS. Most relevant for students and parents are the last two “abilities”: usability and affordability. Chromebooks are a very familiar device to both students and teachers. Chromebooks feature fully-modern Chrome browsers, have batteries that last substantial amounts of time, and power up to boot very quickly. Finally, Chromebooks are very affordable. When comparing a Windows or Apple laptop’s entry level price point to the $175 - $275+ Chromebook laptop, the price can diverge quickly. Furthermore, Chromebooks have a Google operating system and work very well with the BMHS-assigned student Google accounts.
Why are we focusing on technology? Our vision on campus is to increase both the use of technology in the classroom, and the use of computer science concepts/skills in the curriculum. First, by simply using technology in the classroom, it is possible to increase student engagement and/or understanding of the material being presented. Second, by incorporating computer science concepts into curriculum, we are reinforcing many other important skills like: critical thinking, creativity, logic, collaboration, and more. Finally, we are trying to expose and prepare the students for the opportunities they will have in the future. An often overlooked aspect of preparing students for the future is the emergence of new occupations that did not exist eight to ten years ago. For example, in 2008, Apple launched their App Store for mobile devices. Before the launch of this Apple service, being an app developer for mobile devices was not a vocational choice. Other positions have emerged as well: Information Enabler, Social Media Manager, Mobile Technology Expert, User Experience Manager, and many more occupations have emerged over the last ten years. Furthermore, computer science and computer engineering are both within the top 5 highest average starting salaries for undergraduate majors. The National Association of Colleges and Employers, in their most recent 2014 survey of average starting salaries for various college majors, listed computer science as the second highest paying average starting salary at $67,300 and computer engineering in fourth place at $66,600 (http://bit.ly/nace_2014_salary).
Our vision on campus is to increase the amount of technology used in the classroom, and additionally to increase the influence of computer science concepts/skills in all curriculum areas at BMHS. By Integrating the use of technology as a tool, lessons can be designed that increase student engagement, subject understanding, and to enhance higher order thinking skills, or overall student achievement. Our goal is to create a digitally-literate and innovative student - a student capable of accessing, digesting, evaluating and engaging with the vast amount of information available to them today.
Where are we in the process? Major changes are underway. There are new tools available in the classroom to both students and teachers. Furthermore, there are new methods, strategies, and techniques being used by teachers to deliver instruction. BMHS made a considerable investment in our network infrastructure, so that we can ensure the smooth operation and access to network resources and the internet. We have been providing our faculty and staff with professional development opportunities. We are offering new courses to our students. There are many changes taking place on campus in this time of transition. With all the change, we also expect failure. BMHS is aware that not everything about our initiatives will be a success. Teachers will be trying new lessons, technology will fail, batteries will die, networks will crash, and Chromebooks will break. BMHS recognizes that we are not afraid to fail, and each incident of our intentions not working out according to plan is an opportunity for reflection and refinement.