Friday, January 3, 2014

Why we chose Chromebooks

In order to get an idea of which device would be best for teaching and learning in Moore County Schools, we conducted a test / pilot of 5 different types of devices- a 15" HP laptop, an 11" Macbook Air, and 3 different types of Google Chromebooks (Lenovo X131e, Samsung 3 series and Samsung S550).  For the first 2.5 months of the 2013-2014 school year, 12 teachers and over 850 students participated in this pilot, using their devices daily to collaborate, create, and publish digital work.  

Students and teachers were asked to provide feedback on:
  1. What qualities in a laptop were most important to them
  2. How well each laptop was able to handle collaboration, creation, and publication
  3. How easy or difficult the devices were to use and manage in the classroom.
Below are the results of this research

1.  What qualities in a laptop were most important to students?

Question:  When selecting a technology device for school, what is most important to you?
Important Pilot  
In 3 of the top 4 categories, Google Chromebooks were clearly superior (Long Battery Life, Starts up Quickly, Easy to use Google Drive).  In the 4th, "Allows me to Express my Creativity", our pilot showed us that each device performed this task equally well.

2. How well each laptop handled collaboration, creation, and publication

The culmination of our pilot was a common project created by students that showcased their abilities to collaborate, create, and publish utilizing the devices they had been given.  Each group of teachers worked collaboratively to design and implement this common project.  
Topics for Common Projects:

English I (High School):  Comparing and Contrasting how different authors utilized literary devices to enhance their writing

Biology (High School):    Studying Transgenic organisims, DNA Fingerprinting, and associated ethics issues

7th/8th Grade ELA:      Self-selected informational writing
On November 21st, 2013, selected students showcased their final publications to our MCS senior leadership team, School Board, parents, community members, and the media.

Selected Student Work Samples for each device / project

English I
 Connor and JackPinecrest HS  Google Chromebook Project Link
 SaraUnion Pines HS HP Laptop Project Link

 Chris North Moore HS Google Chromebook Project Link
 Katarina Union Pines HS HP Laptop Project Link

7th/8th Grade ELA
 Ryan New Century MS Macbook Air Project Link
 Victoria Elise MS Google Chromebook Project Link
 Karlye Westmoore MS Google Chromebook Project Link

After carefully reviewing this student work, our digital leadership team agreed that each project was high quality and that there were no measurable differences in quality based on device used.

3.  How easy or difficult the devices were to use and manage in the classroom.

Through student and teacher interviews, it was determined that:
  • Google Chromebooks had very little learning curve and were easy to manage
  • Macbook Airs had the largest learning curve but were also easy to manage
  • HP Laptops had the smallest learning curve but had management issues (battery life, weight)
We were able to determine that possible negatives to overcome were the screen size of selected devices (11") and the lack of a full-size keyboard.  In order to be corrective with this feedback we are planning on ordering a Chromebook with a 14" screen size and full-size keyboard.

When all data was considered and our leadership team felt good that each of the devices would work well with our students, fiscal responsibility entered the conversation.  The Chromebook cost significantly less than the other devices considered.   This made the logical conclusion that we could accomplish all of our goals with Google Chromebooks as our student's main device for both school and home.

Cross-Posted to Moore @School website


  1. How do you plan on charging, storing, and securing the Chromebooks from theft? I have read many great reviews for Datamation Systems' Chromebook Cart and we are most likely purchasing it for our school, but I was interested in your thoughts? We already own a Datamation Systems iPad cart and we are very satisfied with the price, design, and functionality, and we are considering going the same route with the Chromebook cart.

  2. Our 1:1 is one where the students are for the most part taking their Chromebooks between home and school. Students are required to charge the CB at home and bring it to school with a full charge.

    Of course, there will always be some that need a charge and so we're just using power strips for those. For day users (can't take home at night) we are mostly charging in the homerooms, which are locked at the end of each day.

    We have some carts but the model we went for is to not use carts as much as possible!