Board approves new Chromebooks for eighth-graders
By upgrading only eighth grade, district anticipates $16K in savings
The Kutztown School Board approved the purchase of new Chromebook laptops for Kutztown Area Middle School 8th graders during their May 15 meeting.
“We’re looking at doing a very different plan, something that is unique,” said Director of Educational Technology Dr. Scott Hand. “It’s looking at getting a variety of devices for our students, one of those being the Chromebook, but also reinvesting in some of the other options that we have as well.”
Chromebooks will be purchased through a program called “Right DeviceRight Time.” The program examines the learning environment of particular students and evaluates that right device to suite their learning needs. Each device, along with a case, would cost about $250, which is less than an iPad Mini, according to Hand. By updating only the 8th grade, the district is looking at about $16,000 in savings.
Hand observed that the school district is heavily focused on blended learning and differentiated instruction. He looked at the applications currently being used by the district and it focused on devices that support the current learning environment.
“What we want to do is basically get a variety of devices and a variety of tools that’ll enable our students to be able to select the right device at the right time,” said Hand. “They can choose from the Chromebooks that will be in front of them daily. They can choose from iPads. We will still have iPads. We will still have Macbook laptops. We will still have iMacs in the computer lab. They will also have elements for virtual reality, green screen, video cameras. They will have all of these things available at their disposal.”
The current focus is on secondary students because they are writing in a longer format than they were previously.
“We didn’t want to limit ourselves to just one device,” said Hand. “We’re doing something that is very unique compared to other school districts, it’s something that’s instructionally focused, too. We’re not just doing it because everyone else is doing it as well.”
From this program, the students can gain technology skills, platform versatility, skill transference and improved decision making abilities.
According to Hand, the Chromebook offers a full web browser experience.
“We can always pivot back, but what we know right now is that Chromebooks are what is going to work best, and it’s built into the current technology budget,” said Hand.