Students to receive Chromebooks

BLOOMINGDALE — Students at Jefferson County Vocational School will have some high-tech tools at their disposal when they return to class next term. That’s because each pupil will have their own Chromebook for learning at school and at home as part of a one-to-one initiative.

School board members approved the purchase of Lenovo N23 Yoga laptops to incorporate into class studies. The models are convertible and change from laptops to tablets, plus they have touchscreen capabilities and come with carrying cases for easier portability. Technology coordinator Ron Peach said he had wanted to upgrade the school’s tools since he began his job last year and he was excited to see plans move along so quickly.

“The students will get unused Chromebooks within the first day of school,” he said. “It converts from a laptop to a tablet and has a touchscreen. It’s one of the higher-end Chromebooks out there. I’ve been working toward getting the JVS on the one-to-one program since last August when I started. I’m really happy because it’s been a vision to get the students on one to one, and I’ve worked in other districts where we were never able to pull it off because of the timing or funding.”

About 355 Chromebooks could be purchased if student enrollment figures are correct, while the upgrade benefits students because they can use the computers both at school and at home. Peach said it also would potentially save the school about 30 percent on costs for other technological equipment and updates.

“There would be no need to maintain the computer lab and other technology at school because every student will have the computers with them,” he said. “It’s going to save money on other expenses we’d normally occur.”

Since beginning his role at JCJVS, Peach has also managed to modernize the school’s network with a new website through eSchoolView and the addition of Google Apps for Education. eSchoolView builds sites on a cloud-based software that is specifically developed for schools, creating customized designs that are easy to update. It also ensures easy navigation with the latest information and helps promote school-to-home communication. Among the new features on the JVS site are an alumni registration section to receive text updates of events on their cell phone, as well as school delay and cancellation alerts for parents and students and learning tools for class studies.

Google Apps for Education saves time and students can interact and share their work with teachers as well as access assignments at school and at home. The Google apps are free with around-the-clock support available, while files can be created, shared, and edited in real time. Info can also be accessed via computer, tablet, or phone and teachers can create, share and grade assignments more easily.

Superintendent Todd Phillipson said the new hardware will help modernize the school.

“We appreciate the support from the board to purchase the Chromebooks. The curriculum tool will provide many benefits to instruction in the classroom,” he said. “It is great to have staff ready to help prepare students for careers by incorporating technology into the classroom.”