LaGrange School District 102

Chromebook 1:1 FAQ

1.     Why is the district issuing Chromebooks to students in grades 6-8?
A: The district believes that technology can add significant value in support of a well rounded, 21st century education. Guided by this principle, the district has long ensured technology access for its students, but only while they were at school.

For the 2015-16 school year, the adoption of a new 6-8 math program (Digits) provides an excellent opportunity to extend the benefits of a well balanced, technology enhanced curriculum to each student even while at home; and the Chromebook program in grades 6-8 is part of the district’s effort to ensure that all students benefit from this opportunity.

2.     What is a Chromebook? What can it do?
A: A Chromebook is simply a laptop computer that runs Google’s Chrome operating system. It’s primary function is to access content and applications stored on the internet.

Because the Chromebook is so targeted in purpose, vendors can use smaller hard drives, specialized microprocessors, and less memory, and still produce a highly functional device. These unique design aspects result in a very capable, but much less expensive computer.

3.     How much does the Chromebook weigh?
A: The district has several Chromebook models in circulation. The weights are as follows:
• CTL J2 Chromebook: 2.46 lbs
• Acer 720 Chromebook : 2.8 lbs
• Samsung XE303 Chromebook: 2.43 lbs
• Samsung XE550 Chromebook (in school use only-these don’t go home): 3.0 lbs

 

4.     How easy and safe is the device to use?
A: The Chromebook is designed to be very easy to use. In fact, your student has probably been using a Chromebook on an as needed basis at school for several years now. The big difference is that now your student will be afforded an opportunity to take it home and use it there as well.

Chromebooks are internet devices at their core, so we ensure safety by filtering online activity. However, filters are fallible. Just as teachers supervise students’ internet activity here in school, to ensure safety, we require parents to supervise their students’ internet activity at home.

 

5.     I heard that you can’t “load” software on a Chromebook. Isn’t that a problem?
A: A Chromebook is a “normal” computer, and as such it can theoretically load and run software; but the Chromebook is also special. The Chromebook operating system has been “hardened”, or locked down in such a way as to make it almost impossible to modify. It has also been told to only run “authorized” software from Google’s Chrome Web Store, much the same way an iPad or iPhone only runs apps from Apple’s App Store. Together, these features make it almost impossible to compromise the system with something like a virus, which is really just a piece of software programmed to do “bad” things. These features are also why some believe that you can’t “load” software on a Chromebook.

Much like any other computer, software can be written for, and loaded on a Chromebook. The process is just different from that used on a Windows or Macintosh computer. Also, since the Chromebook is almost always internet connected, Chromebook software often relies heavily on the internet to function.

Chromebook software takes two forms: apps and extensions.

Apps are really just shortcuts, or links, to an some web based tool. In fact, most are nothing more than the equivalent of internet browser bookmarks.

Extensions are “real” software. They are analogous to “Apps” on an iOS device. They actually install onto the hard drive of the Chromebook, from which they are read and executed. Just as a bad app on an iPhone, or an Application on a Mac can do bad things, extensions can also do bad things. It is important not to install extensions that are unapproved to avoid this problem.

The district centrally restricts certain apps and extensions from getting loaded onto our Chromebooks.

6.     Can a Chromebook get a virus or other malware?
A: The only way a Chromebook can get infected by a virus or other malware is if a user installs a malicious extension. See the question on loading software above for more detail. If a problematic extension is installed, this is not a defect in the system or software; it is user error. Also, the malicious extension can not alter the operating system itself. It can’t embed itself, making removal difficult or impossible, as it can on a Windows or Mac computer. If the extension is removed, the problem immediately disappears.

7.     Will students be expected to use the Chromebook for school-related activities only?
A: The purpose of the Chromebooks is to support the district curriculum. During class time students are expected to use the Chromebook for educational use only. Incidental use outside of class is allowed. However, appropriate use rules apply at all times. These include rules and guidelines found in:

Student Laptop Use Agreement
Parent Laptop Use Agreement
• District 102’s Administrative Procedures Regarding Internet Use and Safety
• The District 102 Authorized Use Letter of Agreement
• Your school’s parent/student handbook

8.     What subjects will require the use of Chromebooks?
A: Currently, only students in the Digits Math program will be required to complete online homework regularly. Teachers may require their use for other subjects at school, and the requirement for home use in other subjects is likely to change once all students have access to the devices. However, at this time, only the Digits Math program has a home requirement for Chromebook use.

9.     With which operating systems/devices is the new Math program compatible?
A: See the following link for compatiblity information.

http://pearsonnasites.force.com/kbase/articles/Informational/Pearson-Realize-System-Requirements-1404800369845/?q=Pearson+Realize+System+Requirements&l=en_US&fs=Search&pn=1

10.   Will students enrolled in Algebra I be issued a Chromebooks?
A: Chromebooks will be issued to all participating students in grades 6,7, and 8, regardless of enrollment in a specific subject.

11.   Will the Chromebook reduce the number of books my student needs to carry home?
A: Our new 6-8 Math curriculum, “Digits”, is online. The Chromebook will replace the need to carry home a Digits textbook. Several other subjects already provide online access to the textbook - specifically: social studies and algebra. There are currently no plans to replace other existing textbooks.

12.   Can my student transport the Chromebook in their own backpack or school bag?
A: No. Students will receive a bag along with the Chromebook. Only this bag should be used to transport their Chromebook and accompanying accessories. Books and other materials should be carried in a different bag or backpack. Combining books in the same bag with the Chromebook is likely to cause damage to the device.

 

13.   Can we buy our own Chromebook instead of using the school issued Chromebook?
A: Unfortunately, no. All Chromebooks used in the classroom must be district issued because all Chromebooks must be configured to work in conjunction with the District’s management system.

14.   Can our student bring in a laptop instead of using the school issued Chromebook?
A: No. All devices used in the classroom need to be the district issued to ensure safety and security.

15.   Since you’re using Google Apps for Education will Google sell or share student information?
A: The information in Google Apps for Education is private and will not be shared or sold.

16.   How is the district prepared to handle students that go on inappropriate sites and/or participate in cyberbullying?
A: In order to restrict inappropriate content, out of district Chromebook activity will be filtered in much the same way as it is at school using the “Securly” (http://www.securly.com) cloud based content filtering service. Attempting to access inappropriate content or bypass the filter violates the District’s Authorized Use Agreement and related policies and rules. Students found engaging in such activities will be subject to disciplinary action.

District issued student email accounts are restricted and can only be used to communicate with other students or district staff. These email communications are also monitored for content - including possible bullying activity. Suspicious messages are regularly reviewed by district staff. Beyond email, content created using the district’s Google Apps for Education services are also regularly scanned for inappropriate, even mildly questionable content; and flagged materials are reviewed by staff to ensure student safety.

It must be noted, however, that with any technology misuse is possible and automated safeguards are fallible. The most reliable way to ensure student safety is through human supervision. When using technology at school, students are supervised by their teachers and support staff. When at home, parents are expected to monitor and oversee their children’s technology use.

17.   What happens if my student’s Chromebook gets stolen or damaged at school? Who will be responsible for that?
A: If the Chromebook is stolen or damaged, the student/parent is responsible for the cost of replacement or repairs. As of July 15th, 2015, a complete Chromebook replacement will not cost more than $179.00.

18.   Will the district provide an insurance program so parents can pay a premium to help defer the cost of a damaged Chromebook?
A: Because of the low replacement and repair costs of a Chromebook, and the fact that many of our Chromebooks are not new, the district will not provide an insurance program to cover these costs.

The most common costs related to Chromebooks stem from broken screens, broken keyboards, and lost power adapters. The current maximum cost of a screen replacement is $72, a keyboard is $35, and a new power adapter costs $25. Please note that these prices are subject to change based on the district’s actual costs for materials and labor.

Students and parents are expected to treat all district property with reasonable care and abide by all relevant rules, policies and procedures. In cases where these criteria are met, yet accidental damage still occurs, charges will not be assessed.

A few examples of cases where reasonable care is NOT being exercised include, but are not limited to:

• Carrying the Chromebook in any bag or container containing other books or materials that could potentially place abnormal pressure on the Chromebook.
• Placing the Chromebook in a location where it might easily fall to the floor. This includes the circumstance where a Chromebook is placed on a student’s desk, someone lifts open the top of the desk to access the contents inside, and the Chromebook drops to the floor.
• Closing the lid of the Chromebook without first making sure that the inner surfaces are clear of obstructions.
• Holding the Chromebook only by the screen half.

19.   Can students write on, or otherwise customize the carrying bags or computers?
A: No, the appearance of the bags and computers may not be altered. However, the bags do all look the same. In order to make the bags easier to identify, each will have a luggage tag containing the student’s first initial and last name, along with the asset tag number of the Chromebook assigned to the student.

20.   Are the Chromebooks uniquely assigned to a specific student?
A: Yes. Each Chromebook is uniquely identified and assigned directly to a student. Each building’s Learning Resource Center (LRC) will maintain this inventory.

21.   What happens if my student’s Chromebook is not working? Will he be given a loaner to use for class?
A: If the Chromebook is not working, the student should report the problem to their teacher who will notify the local technical support aide. The aide will determine next steps, including whether a loaner device will need to be issued.

22.   What will we do if we don’t have wifi internet access at home?
A: The district believes that the internet can be a powerful tool for learning, and urges parents to secure internet access for their students. The following are options for families unable to secure wifi internet access through conventional channels.

• For students of families eligible for the National School Lunch Program, Comcast offers home internet service for $9.95/month through its Internet Essentials program. Through this program, Comcast has already helped 1.8 million students get connected. For information on this program call: 1-855-846-8376, or visit http://www.internetessentials.com

• Each school provides supervised extended hours for students unable to connect at home. Hours differ at each school. Please check with your school for details.

• There are also various locations in the community that offer free wifi access including public libraries, and local businesses.

• If none of these options are viable, please contact your student’s teacher or principal to see what other arrangements can be made.

23.   What is the expected battery life for a Chromebook?
A: This answer is model and task dependent, but in most cases a fully charged Chromebook used in a typical fashion (not streaming video every minute of the day) should easily last at least an entire 7 hour school day. Some models are expected to last 9 or more hours of use.

24.   Will there be charging stations at school?
A: Charging stations will not be available at school. The Chromebook has a battery capacity close to 8 hours when fully charged. Students are expected to routinely charge their Chromebooks overnight prior to coming to school the next day.

While there will be no official charging stations, teachers will have access to a limited number of additional chargers to use at their discretion.

25.   We have a computer at home that my student can use. Does my student have to take the Chromebook home?
A: No, students are not required to take their Chromebook home. Students choosing to leave their Chromebook at school must check in their device at the end of each day. At Park, Chromebooks will be checked in and left to charge in the LRC. At the elementary buildings, Chromebooks will be checked in and left to charge with the student's homeroom teacher. Students regularly leaving their Chromebook at school must also leave their power adapter to ensure that the device can be charged.

26.   Will you be able to secure the internet connection when my student uses the Chromebook outside of school?
A: Yes. The district’s Chromebooks will continue to use the district’s cloud based filtering service - Securly (http://www.securly.com) - even when at home. Note that even though filters will remain in place, no filters are 100% effective. Although filtered, the district still requires that parents supervise their students’ home online activity.

27.   How will inappropriate use of the Chromebook be addressed?
A: Inappropriate use will be addressed on a case by case basis according to standard school and district discipline protocols.

28.   Will the school be able to see everything that my student does through the Chromebook?
A: Chromebook activity will be monitored, and much of it may be logged or recorded both at school and while at home. At school, staff may be able to actively view students’ Chromebook screens as well as view activity logs. At home, use can only be logged.

29.   How effective is the device at creating “educational products” such as papers, presentations, videos, and other potential assignments?
A: The Chromebook primarily uses Google tools for productivity. Students can easily create papers, presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings. There are also many educational apps and education websites that allow students to produce everything from movies to graphic design projects. These tools, combined with file management ease and a built-in keyboard - which remains the primary input device in our world today - make the Chromebooks extraordinarily well suited for the school environment.

30.   How will the 6-8 Chromebooks affect other existing district technology resources?
A: Having the Chromebooks available for grades 6,7,8 will allow the district to shift other existing resources - specifically MacBook computers - to lower grades, or to retask resources to subject specific use such as music or art. For situations where Chromebooks are unsuitable, other resources will still be available in the building.

31.   What "paperwork" must be on file before my student can take their Chromebook home?
A: The signed forms that must be turned in to your student's school before a student can take home a Chromebook are:

Student Laptop Use Agreement (signed by student and parent/guardian)
Parent Laptop Use Agreement (signed by parent/guardian)
• District 102 Authorized Use Letter of Agreement (signed by student and parent/guardian)

Please print and return these forms.

Once these forms have been received by the school, a Chromebook, carrying bag, and power adapter can be issued to your student.

32.   How will information about the Chromebook program be communicated to parents?
A: Parents of students who will be in grades 6,7, and 8 during the 2015-16 school year received an introductory letter toward the end of May. A copy of the letter can be found HERE .

Another communication will go out via email at the end of July. This will include links to this FAQ, and the forms that must be completed and returned before Chromebooks can be issued. This email will also contain a way to RSVP to schedule appointments with a district representative to address any unanswered questions or concerns, or even just to provide feedback and thoughts on this initiative. The RSVP dates are August 20th or August 21st. August 20th and August 21st are district professional development days. The buildings will be open, making these great times to drop off your completed forms as well.

Finally, building curriculum nights are scheduled to include discussion of the Chromebook program.

Beyond these communication channels, parents can contact Al Kirkus - the District's Information Technology Director - at any time by calling 708-215-7004, or emailing kirkusal@dist102.k12.il.us.