Polk Schools eyes Chromebooks

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Administrators said they also think Chromebooks could be a solution because they aren’t like a typical laptop. The Chromebook has no hard drive, so documents and programs cannot be stored on the devices, Scherping said. Instead, students save documents to the Google “cloud,” a browser-based service that allows documents to be stored and accessed via the Internet.

“We’re starting to see students working in the cloud, or in other words, being able to seamlessly work from school to home to grandma’s house to wherever,” Scherping said. “Even the teachers can respond to the students’ work in real time.”

Miller and Scherping agree that the Chromebooks are not necessary for all classes all of the time. Burgin said she uses them with at least one of her classes a day. So the system is leaning toward providing portable sets of the devices to core subject classrooms and then allowing the sets to be loaned out between classes as needed.

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Miller said if the system were to buy MacBook Airs, which cost around $1,000 a piece, for approximately 800 students, the system would be looking at a bill of almost $1 million. Purchasing Chromebooks on a ratio of one device per two students, at $400 per device, the system might spend $160,000 to $200,000.

The latter estimate sits better with Miller, who said he’d rather spend less now, knowing new technology could be right around the corner, than more now and be left with no funds to work with down the road.

Scherping said though the devices are just a year old, Google expects users to get three to four years out of them.

Miller and Scherping said they would like to see a larger number of the devices in students’ hands potentially before the end of this school year.

“Our school system will have a technology expense in its budget every month of every year, but we have to decide what is the best use for our money now,” Miller said.
“This is going to allow the classroom to become wherever those students are,” he said.