30 Mar Hybrid Chromebooks Can Give Early Childhood Classrooms a Learning Boost
Hybrid Chromebooks can help young students refine their motor functions and cognitive skills as they graduate from tablet-based learning to laptops.
If it seems like Chromebooks are everywhere these days, it’s because Google is indisputably leading the race to equip American schools with up-to-date mobile technology. Chromebooks are lightweight, inexpensive and tailored for classroom productivity, making them ideal for districts launching one-to-one laptop programs. Yet, one major quality that makes Chromebooks valuable for older students has kept the devices from winning over early childhood classrooms: keyboards.
Laptops? Tablets? Chromebooks?
An integrated keyboard tops the list of reasons why districts often choose Chromebooks over laptops or tablets. They deliver the laptop experience older students need for desktop publishing and collaboration, which gives Chromebooks a glaring advantage over costly tablets that require extra expense for keyboard attachments.
Yet, schools often stick to tablets in grades K to 2, as young students are just starting to train the fine motor skills they need to handle a trackpad and keyboard. The answer? Hybrid devices. Two-in-one Chromebooks—such as the Asus Flip, Acer Chromebook R 11 and Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e—eliminate any need for compromise by combining tablet and laptop functionality. Made with flexible hinges, hybrid Chromebooks feature touchscreen displays that flip backward for a fast, seamless switch to tablet or tent position.
3 Reasons to “Go Hybrid”
With increased standards for reading proficiency, the Council Bluffs Community School District is considering the benefits of going one-to-one in early childhood classrooms, where blended learning has already yielded good results. The district currently has a one-to-one Chromebook initiative in grades 3 to 12 and a small collection of iPads for grades pre-K to 2 to share. Council Bluffs is piloting hybrid Chromebooks to find out if the devices can replace iPads, and here’s why.
- Cost: The estimated cost of $500 per iPad has prevented the district from going one-to-one with young students. In contrast, hybrid devices would cost roughly $300—a small difference from the $250 the district pays for the Chromebooks that older students use.
- Cognitive development: Children develop at their own pace, and hybrid Chromebooks support a student’s natural learning process. Between ages 4 and 7, many children are evolving beyond sensory learning and starting to make critical assessments about the information they absorb. They thrive from the visual and tactile experience of interacting with the touchscreen display. At the same time, they are learning how to think, so they can process information even when every detail can’t be seen.
- Motor skills: Computer literacy is a priority for youngsters growing up in a technocentric world, so it’s necessary for today’s students to learn keyboarding skills early in life. As many schools now have Chromebooks or laptops in third grade, teachers can benefit from gradually introducing students to keyboards in second grade. Keyboards provide the perfect training ground for young kids to learn the fine finger and hand motions they need to complete complex tasks, such as writing, sports and playing instruments.
Schools that want to challenge students to think, learn and ask questions have to avoid a one-size-fits-all solution. Hybrid Chromebooks offer enhanced functionality, making it easier to accommodate the diverse needs of early childhood classrooms.
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