By Carley Dangona
WEST SPRINGFIELD – West Springfield High School
will issue 1,200 Chromebook computers to its students in the fall of the 2014-2015 school year to promote digital learning in an effort to engage each and every student.
The implementation of Chromebooks will utilize the suite of applications offered by Google for Education. Each devices costs $279. The purchase amount was included as part of the $107.1 million cost of the new high school that was funded by the Commonwealth. School Handbook policies regarding insurance for the devices, student liability for lost, damaged, or stolen devices and reduced payment options for families in need are currently being developed.
“The devices are really a necessity in the digital age of learning,” Michael Richard, West Springfield High School principal, said. “We are making sure our students are very well prepared for college and to enter the workforce.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Russell Johnston said, “The goal is to provide our students with a deeper level of education.” He added that the staff wants “to harness technology” to promote collaboration on lessons between the teachers and the students and among students.
Johnston said that Google is responsible for providing updates to the software and security to the servers. The Chromebooks have small hard drives and are solely used for online applications. The computers use Google Docs, which many of the teachers are utilizing already.
The superintendent anticipated that the district would purchase Hewlett-Packard (HP) devices since the high school uses many HP products currently. Students spent a weekend trying out different devices from companies such as HP and Acer, but did not favor one brand over another.
“What we don’t want are expensive paperweights. Professional development will be key,” Richard stated.
Richard said that a number of teachers will spend part of the summer vacation developing lesson plans and curriculums for the Chromebooks.
They will instruct fellow teachers how to use the devices and the programs. Many of the programs can be adapted to a variety of subjects. Richard noted that the staff is “prepared to have the students teach them as well,” since many of them are technologically savvy.
“How will you best learn? How to use this for your students?” Johnston said these are the questions the teachers are being asked to help devise the best method of training for them and to inspire creative use of the Chromebooks to teach the students.