Background Information for Nicolet's Digital Learning Initiative
Nicolet High School is committed to preparing students to be successful citizens in a global economy. One of the Foundations for Excellence at Nicolet is to personalize learning for all students. Beginning in 2015, Nicolet’s digital learning initiative will provide 9th grade students with the use of a Chromebook so learning can become flexible and personalized for staff and students through the use of varied activities, resources and tools that make learning more engaging and accessible regardless of learning style. With each new school year, the 9th grade students will receive Chromebooks so that in the 2018-19 school year, all students will have Chromebooks to use for their learning. Our students will use 21st Century skills and resources to think critically, communicate and collaborate as they creatively solve problems and demonstrate understanding.
Research is clear that to ensure student success, education must move from a teacher-centric to a learner-centric approach. When schools implement a one-to-one student to computer ratio, they create the opportunity for personalization of teaching and learning for each student. With access to personal portable technologies, students can learn at their own pace, ability levels, and take advantage of the worldwide experiences and resources available online-and just in time.
A recent study by the Project RED team, ‘The Technology Factor, Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness (2011)’, found that students in 1:1 programs outperform across all education success measures compared to those in higher student to computer ratio environments (www.projectred.org). Numerous other achievement and financial benefits were also attributed to 1:1 settings and students’ consistent access to personal, portable technologies. Student collaborations and project-based lessons are fundamental instructional tools in 1:1 environments.
It is important for all students to have a common device with similar capabilities so teachers can plan for lessons without concern for variations in student devices, operating systems and applications. Having a common device enables students to collaborate easily on learning activities while enabling the teacher to easily manage learning the learning environment and communicate with students throughout activities and assignments.
Why Use Chromebooks?
A Chromebook is a device meant for primarily working with Internet based resources, though it still has a great deal of functionality even when wireless (wifi) Internet is not available. It is fast and light making it easy to use and carry around. The device is relatively inexpensive compared to other technologies on the market yet it is easy to support while providing 6-8 hours of battery life and connects with Google’s suite of applications which are used by every student and staff member at Nicolet High School.
The key factors included:
- Providing all of our students within a grade level, the same opportunity to access to select electronic textbooks as well as the vast array of resources on the web.
- A cost point that is sustainable over time.
- The ability for a Chromebook to natively and seamlessly integrate with Google Apps for Education, which is the platform for communication and collaboration in the Nicolet High School learning community.
- A Chromebook has an integrated keyboard and mouse, which makes creating products online easier for many students and its more than six hour battery life will let students work through an entire school day without charging.
- The ability to manage the device and monitor student use at school through an enterprise management console.
- The ability to put the device into a "test mode" to comply with a variety of online-based assessment tools (ACT Aspire).
- Chromebooks update the operating system themselves while we still have the ability to push out applications and tools to our students.
- We have the ability to lock anyone out of a stolen or lost Chromebook, thus making it unusable and serving as a deterrent for theft.
- The Chromebook offers a full-featured browser for working on the Internet that includes support for flash, a requirement for some online resources.
- The Chromebook can be used offline to create/edit documents if Internet service is not available.
- Although the Chromebook allows files to be stored on it, all of the work done on a Chromebook ultimately backs up to the cloud. As a result a student will rarely if ever lose their work and if their device stops working another Chromebook can be substituted and the student can continue working as if they were on their original device.
- A Chromebook also comes with the ability to add on external storage through USB flash drives or SD cards. So students can pull in and access work done on other Windows, Mac, or Linux based systems and still store and work with large files that do not easily store on a mobile device or in the cloud.