This is the second part of a two-part blog series about purchasing and deploying chromebooks. You can find the first blog here.
Alright, so you’ve already made your decision on what kind of Chromebooks you want. Now they’ve been shipped on their way! What now?
Unfortunately, the process is hardly over – and may never be. Deploying and managing a fleet of Chromebooks (or any device really) takes some time and continual effort. This is where we hope to make things a little bit easier for you.
Based on our experience in the field, coupled with our own research, here are some tips and resources for you when it comes time to deploy this hardware from heaven.
Professional development for IT staff/teachers
The times, they are a changin’ – though you must understand that everyone may not be comfortable changing along with them. One of my fellow Newminders had a high school teacher who stilled used a typewriter…in 2008!
Just as students all learn in different ways, the same holds true for teachers. Professional development is key to a successful deployment process – and there are so many resources to utilize!
Rather than just taking the Chromebooks out of the box and immediately implementing a full-scale disbursement, the IT staff should first become familiar with the new devices. After that, select a few interested and motivated teachers to train. Once they are comfortable with them, they will be able to train the other teachers. No teacher wants to be in class with 30 students bombarding them with questions about a device they don’t know much about. Sounds awful.
Like I said, there are a ton of resources you can use, including: guides, web-based classes, training systems like Boost eLearning or Synergyse, or having a Google partner help train. Hold regular meetings where everyone can come together to learn and ask questions. Google is always changing and making updates to their services and products so it’s best to try and keep updated rather than play catch-up later. Another thing you can do is talk with or visit another school who has already went through the Chromebook deployment process and get some advice from them.
Craft a deployment strategy
Again, be prepared. Think about running a pilot program. After some initial training choose one class or one whole grade to roll out the Chromebooks to. Then, learn from that. What worked? What didn’t? Get feedback from everyone involved.
Build excitement about this change! You could hold a kick-off event, a parent-teacher conference, assembly, or a combination of these and more. Be creative and have fun.
Update your Acceptable Use Policy regarding these devices. The teachers should create their own as well. That will probably be something they’ll need to change as they go along. For an idea as to what this might look like, this is a doc one teacher put together for her classroom.
Lastly, there will be some questions you’ll need to think about, including but not limited to:
- Will your students be taking these devices home over the summer?
- What stakeholders should be involved in the deployment process?
- How will you define and measure success for this 1:1 program?
For teachers, what do you want to be able to do with the Chromebooks? Connect better with your students? Encourage them to participate more? Have them consume content or create content? Access the web more easily?
As mentioned in the first blog of this series, the Chrome Web Store will be your “go-to” site for finding new Apps and Extensions to use in your classroom. There are thousands to choose from. Don’t let that overwhelm you though. Google has created app packs for specific grade levels. Also, check out some online forums and communities to see what others in your field are using. Google + is an awesome platform to connect with others on a variety of these topics.
There is so much potential with these devices. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
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Once the Chromebooks are comfortably settled in the hands of students and teachers, you can take a big sigh. That was probably a lot of work!
However, as with most tech devices, they will require attention. Managing Chromebooks, especially for hundreds or thousands of students, will be an ongoing responsibility. You’ll have to figure out ways to keep them in the hands of students vs. in a repair stack on your desk.
Some schools have created student-led Help desks or internships for students to take the reigns on managing the devices. Not only does this ease the burden for the IT staff, but it also provides some students with great hands-on experience they’ll be able to build upon.
From the management console, you’ll have to modify settings so that students have access (or not) to the appropriate apps and extensions for their work. This will also be where you’ll go to change security settings as you adapt your Acceptable Use Policies.
Fortunately, just buying Chromebooks in the first place will cut down on time – and money – spent on repairs, outages, booting, troubleshooting, and much more compared to your traditional PCs. Check out this site to calculate just how much you’ll be saving, and from what areas, by choosing Chromebooks.
Remember, as your users evolve, your support will too.
Can anyone recommend specific apps/extensions they have found useful?