Google Chromebooks modernize Avella classrooms

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With the help of sleek, portable Samsung Chromebook laptops, classrooms at Avella High School have been transformed.

The device, which was introduced to grades seven through 12 in waves after the first nine weeks of the school year, eliminates the need for textbooks and costly reams of paper. Now, with the click of a button, teachers and students have a vast amount of resources at their fingertips.

Avella Superintendent Janell Logue-Belden said the devices have allowed the district to embrace students’ close relationship with technology and the new direction of education.

“This is more realistic,” Logue-Belden said. “Teachers provide students with links to websites. When working on a writing assignment, they can access what the students are working on and add comments. They can use it for projects and presentations. This is where education is heading. This is the future of teaching.”

Avella High School Principal Tom Graham said the Chromebooks, which were donated by Google and provided to the students at no cost, have been extremely beneficial for English, social studies and science classrooms.

“We are pleased with the way the staff and students have grasped it,” he said. “There are certain teachers that have really embraced them.”

Logue-Belden said she is regularly invited into classrooms to see how the devices are being used. She said the device and its applications, or apps, have been so popular the staff requested a second, more advanced training session from Google.

“Last year, when we started talking about this, the teachers were very nervous,” she said. “But as we had trainings and let them use the Chromebooks, teachers started to approach us with different ideas.”

Reading teacher Amber Ripley said the implementation of the devices has been gradual for her. Nonetheless, she said the students really enjoy using them.

“It’s a great asset to have,” she said. “Teachers don’t have to fight for labs, and the kids now have the world at their fingertips.”

While every classroom and course is different, senior Samy Rinkin said she uses her device on a daily basis.

“It eliminates the needs for textbooks. You don’t have to tote them around now,” she said. “It’s great for notes and to write papers.”

The laptops access cloud-based programs through an Internet connection. The data is stored remotely, and students can access their work regardless of whether they are connected to the Internet. Once students are connected to the Internet, the information automatically updates. Logue-Belden said firewalls have been put in place to ensure the students cannot access inappropriate information or sites.

Logue-Belden said the devices eventually will save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars because they eliminate the need for certain materials like workbooks, textbooks, paper and ink.

After the devices’ successful release, Logue-Belden said the district is now looking to secure Chromebooks or tablets for the elementary-age students.

“We are looking to see what other districts have and what works best for that age group,” she said. “ If we can teach them early, it will help them later on.”

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