Friday, April 25, 2014

Promoting Student Voice with Chromebooks

One huge benefit we've found in deploying Chromebooks on a large scale is that they are so much easier to manage than any other device we've used in the past (PC's, Macs, iPads, etc.).  One of the excellent features of Google Apps Admin is the ability to easily create a district-specific App Store within the larger Chrome Web Store Environment (if you'd like to read more on how to do this, click here for a tutorial).  Our store is called "Moore@School".

The way we set up our Chromebooks for app downloads is in two tiers- staff and students:  
Staff:  Any staff member has full rights to view and download ANY app from the wider Chrome Web Store.

Students:  All students can VIEW apps on the wider Chrome Web Store and have access to download and install any apps within our "Moore@School" store.

So how do we promote more student voice within our district?  Well, we give all students an opportunity to request an app to be placed within the Moore@School store. All students have to do is go to this page and fill out this form to request an app to be loaded.  I get a notification of the request, download and test the app, then approve or deny it.  Once it is approved, I email the student back to thank them and let them know of it's approval, then push it out to our web store.  This entire process- from my email dinging with a notification to the app showing up for download in the web store takes less than 5 minutes.

We've seen great benefits from this already!  The students are doing an outstanding job of providing sound reasoning and justification for their app choices.  Here are just a few excerpts from apps that were requested and approved:

App Request:  Caret  (Requestor: Garret K)

"This app is a text editor. I am trying to write html and javascript code on my chromebook but the text app has a very hard to use interface and doesn's make a whole lot of since. After every opening tag it adds a two space indention that you have to remove to had a closing tag to keep your text aligned. I'm on the search for the best text editing app on the web store."

App Request:  Cacoo  (Requestor:  Cheyenne)

"I think cacoo should be add to Moore County Schools because it is a app that would help us in math and science and reading. Cacoo can help us in science because we are learning about plants. In reading we do flow charts that help us draw conclusions It can help us in math because we plot coordinates on a coordinates plane. It can help us in social studies because we do timelines. Thank you for taking our suggestion."

App Request:  (Requestor:  Brittany)

"I believe students of Moore County Schools should be able to access the app I believe this because it’s a very useful and educational app. The 6th-8th grade students of Highfalls Elementary School are working on learning graphing and calculating functions. In this utility you are able to use exponents which would be very useful for the upcoming years. The reviews on this app are “excellent graphing utility” and ”quite amazing”. can help us in many ways such as with completing tasks. Also, it allows easy work formation, and allows you to plot and design your own graphical unit. It has more functions that are still new to the app and it is easily used. By having this tool we would be able to use less paper by graphing parallelograms, trapezoids, and polygons through the app. Thank you for considering my suggestion."

If you're interested in seeing how our app list has grown, check out this page and scroll to the embedded G Doc toward the bottom.

We've been able to be responsive to student needs, have been exposed to a lot of great new apps, and students are able to have a positive impact on the rest of the students in our county- a true win for increased student voice!

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