12 Aug 3 Tips for a Smooth Rollout from Successful Chromebook Schools
Lessons from early Chromebook adopters help school districts avoid costly deployment mishaps.
School districts are pressured to jump on the technology bandwagon and produce impressive test scores, but poor planning makes administrators more likely to run out of funding or abandon technology initiatives within the first few years. “Success” is a vague idea that every school administration hopes to obtain. The most effective districts are patient and eager to learn from educators who carefully navigated the ups and downs of student Chromebook programs.
- Deploy Chromebooks in Phases
A Chromebook program is an expensive financial obligation, and when city budgets are involved, the burden often falls upon local citizens in the form of higher taxes. With those pressures in mind, administrators benefit by being cautious with resources and working out potential obstacles with a small test group of students and well-trained teachers.
Council Bluffs Community School District arranged mini pilots at the elementary, middle and high school levels to evaluate the devices’ effectiveness at different grade levels. Administrators chose the most tech-savvy teachers for the pilot. Their willingness to take risks and develop new teaching styles made them ideal leaders to train the remaining faculty and refine district-wide integration methods before the full rollout.
- Provide Ongoing Professional Development
Teachers can’t update their teaching methods if they’re unprepared or afraid to integrate Chromebooks and Chrome OS into lesson plans. In addition to providing advanced training, administrators have to engage with teachers regularly to share content and experiences, explore new software and discuss problems.
Organizing workshops allows faculty to meet up and collaborate on lesson plans that nurture blended learning. At the same time, teachers become valuable resources to one another and are able to make suggestions based on a coworker’s specific needs. Richland County School District Two also instituted an innovation fund, giving faculty opportunities to obtain supplementary resources that enhance the learning or teaching experience.
- Evaluate and Adapt
Financial investments are only worthwhile if they create value. To assess the benefits of a Chromebook initiative, administrators must define the educational “profits” they hope to gain and
outline clear methods of evaluation. Test proficiency is one way to measure success, but districts should be equally aware of behavioral changes that demonstrate the potential for long-term improvement, such as work ethic, initiative and participation.
After deploying 23,000 Chromebooks, Richland County enlisted an evaluation team. Their observations revealed that teachers were shifting from a primarily lecture-based system to blended learning styles that involved more student engagement and collaboration. The result was a more attentive student body and fewer late assignments. While every district can’t afford an outside evaluation team, they are more likely to sustain a Chromebook program by making periodic evaluations and adjustments, instead of delaying assessments until the end of a pilot.
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