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Blind Brook To Provide Google Chrome Books To All Seventh-Graders

Colin Byrne was a computer teacher at the Blind Brook School District for five years. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly
Colin Byrne is in his sixth year as the Blind Brook School District's director of technology. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

RYE, N.Y. – All 130 seventh-grade Blind Brook students will get a personal Google Chrome Book for the 2014-15 school year.

The school district had been exploring devices for years, ranging from Netbooks to iPads. Colin Byrne, director of technology, said the Chrome Book was the best fit because it has direct connection to the Internet, long battery life and short boot time.

“In a 40-minute class, every second you can save is critical,” he said.

The district spent about $50,000 to buy a little more than 130 Chrome Books and the necessary software. Depending on how the initial roll out goes in September, Byrne said they may expand the program to an additional grade each year or two grades each year until all middle and high school students have a Chrome Book.

The financial status of the district will also play a role in this decision.

“Ultimately, if everything works out OK, we’re going to have grades seven through 12 all having Chrome Books,” Schools Superintendent William Sack said.

The implementation process has started with bi-weekly workshops with teachers. Byrne said there are two potential problems with a project like this. The first is nobody uses them.

“The other is they try to use it too much and it will get forced into lessons and disrupt the learning, rather than enhance the learning, which is what it’s there for,” he said.

The number of teacher requests for devices has spiked in recent years, with some using a flipped classroom, meaning they have students watch a video lecture at home and do what would normally be homework in the classroom with the teacher. Byrne said the Chrome Book lends itself to that teaching style and makes it more equitable to all students, some of whom may not have Internet access at home.

Other teachers have used Google Docs to share class notes that turn into an end-of-year study guide.

“Really with the way things are today there’s so much information readily available to students it seems almost wasteful for them not to have the reality of the world (in the classroom),” Byrne said.

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