By Gary Lloyd
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said teachers are “very enthusiastic” about the Chromebook and comparative study pilot program that the Trussville City Board of Education approved Monday.
Chromebooks are small, fast computers that can hold thousands of apps.
Trussville City Schools Director of Technology John Keir said there are 375 Chromebooks systemwide and two pilot models — one in which students use the Chromebooks at school, and a one-to-one model in which students can take the small laptop computers home.
Four Hewitt-Trussville High School classes, two at Hewitt-Trussville Middle School and a fifth-grade class at Paine Intermediate School employ the one-to-one model. The English/language arts department at the middle school contains 125 Chromebooks used in classrooms.
The one-to-one model allows a “flip classroom” for students, in which they complete homework during class for more engagement with their teachers and take home class assignments such as reading or watching videos. The benefit to this model is if there are weather days in which students stay home, they can still complete their work on the Chromebooks.
The classroom set model allows students to better understand technology while in the classroom. State and federal programs are moving more toward e-learning, so introducing new technology can help students in the future.
“We’re examining both closely to see what maybe works best,” Keir said. “This is the environment five, six, seven, definitely 10 years from now that kids will be entering. They’ll be expected to learn in that environment.”
Chromebooks cost about $200 each — not much more than textbooks — and their use allows constant teaching points during the day, especially about having “good digital citizenship,” Keir said.
“It’s cool,” said one fifth-grade student in the pilot program. “It’s fun to use.”
Hewitt-Trussville Middle School Principal Lisa Berry said she is “very optimistic” about the program and that teachers are “on fire” about it.
Keir said a lot of school districts have already moved to the one-to-one model, including Huntsville, which gives laptops to students in the third grade and up, and iPads to students younger than in the third grade.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of great benefits,” Keir said. “It’s where the state is going, and we better get on the train if we want to be with the times.”
Results of the pilot will be made available during the spring of 2014. The results will show comparative academic performance, potential technical issues and maintenance and student excitement.
Trussville City Board of Education member Sid McNeal said the Chromebooks pilot program is an area where the school system could be “innovative.”
“I think we will be,” Neill said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.