Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chromebooks: My Take

By Dr. Will

Like a lot of you, over the past years, I have heard and read a great deal about Chromebooks. Being an instructional technologist at a K-12 school district with some experience with iPod Touches and iPads, I was curious to see what the Chromebook could do. Especially, since I have seen what happens when administrators and teachers want apps that older devices cannot download. This left me searching for a device that teachers could not only use to expand and deliver engaging learning experiences for their students, but a device that could both grow with the expectations of the teachers and administrators, as well as with the learning needs of the students. And I was hoping that the Chromebook could be such a device.

About four months ago, I was issued a Chromebook. I was immediately impressed with its setup and the speed in which it booted up. Just like that I was up and running, and ready to see what the Chromebook could do. The following is a quick review of my experiences:

The learning curve is zero. You power up a Chromebook, put in your gmail account and password, and you are off and running. What's so awesome about this is is there is no training needed to learn how to operate the Chromebook - which is a big win for an instructional technologist. The zero learning curve allows us (instructional technologists) the opportunity to focus our work on teaching teachers how to use the Chromebook for instructional purposes.

It's portability is king.  Yeah, I know an iPad is portable, but I couldn't do the work that I do on a regular basis on an ipad. For example, I am a district administrator for Compass Learning in the district. Part of that includes adding teachers and students to Compass. With my Chromebook, I have been able to be away from the office and add logins in a jiffy. In fact, I once received an email from a teacher, and I was able to add her and create several logins for another teacher from the comfort of a parking lot.  Now try doing that with an iPad.

The Chrome apps make up for not having a device with a traditional hard drive that has an operating system pre-loaded with video and audio creation applications. This is important because Common Core requires students to create products using digital tools. To create such products on a Chromebook, students can use WeVideo for video editing and ScreenCastle for screencasting. Those apps are free in the Chrome store. 

GAFE is golden.  What do I need to say about gmail, Google Drive, Google+, Google Calender, Google Docs, etc.? Once again I know that those apps can be accessed via any device. However, since each individual's email account is associated with those apps, this makes using the Chromebook that much more awesome, because students can share Chromebooks. Each class can have its own set. This is perfect for schools and school districts with limited funds. 

The price is grrrrrrreat!  Just like Tony the Tiger, I am giddy about the price of the Chromebook. At the higher end, excluding the Pixel, the Lenovo Chromebook is $399, the HP Chromebook 14, and the Acer C720P Touchscreen are both $299. The lower end features the Acer C720 at $199, and the Samsung Chromebook at $249. 

The low cost of purchasing, managing (additional $30), and maintaining a Chromebook is a major plus for schools, particularly if your district is thinking about going 1:1. 

OK. I must admit that I have yet to see the Chromebook in action inside a classroom outside of students on Compass. That said, I am a believer in what the Chromebook offers, and what is possible under the guidance of a good teacher. I see the Chromebook as a game-changer, and device that could make blended learning a reality for a K-12 school district. 

Tell me what you think. What are your thoughts about the Chromebook?

About the author:  Dr. Will Deyamport, III is an innovative thought leader in connected education, leading the design and implementation of collaborative initiatives in support of teaching, learning, and professional development. His research is in how educators can use technology-supported Personal Learning Networks to individualize their professional development, as well as the challenges affecting the adoption of new learning environments and technologies. Dr. Will is a frequent presenter at conferences, guest lecturer, and regularly blogs and produces online content focused on the educational uses of web tools and social technologies. He is an alumnus of Capella University, where he earned his Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership and Management.

Dr. Deyamport's dream job is to become the Executive Director of TED.

Monday, December 23, 2013


By Dr. Will

This blog post is inspired by Krissy Venosdale's post Eleven. Here are eleven random facts, followed by an answer to each of Krissy's eleven questions. 
Eleven Random Facts About Me:

  1. I never, ever make the bed.
  2. I order the same two things at restaurants, unless I am at an Italian or Mexican or sandwich spot. Those two things are a burger or a steak.
  3. I am a converted Apple computer guy. Shhh... Don't tell my Mac friends.
  4. I have a huge sweet tooth. Ice cream is my kryptonite. 
  5. I cannot get enough of watching TV and movies. So much so that I went to film school. Yes, I have a B.A. in Radio, TV, and Film.
  6. I broke my collarbone in my early teens.
  7. I don't like eggs, cheese without meat, oatmeal, grits, shrimp, okra, or white milk. 
  8. I think Chuck Bartowski is the man. Chuck was/is my TV show, except for the last season. They jumped the shark.
  9. I was pretty much a C student in high school until the 11th and 12th grades. 
  10. Last year, I wore a size 12 shoe; this year I wear a size 13 shoe.

Now, eleven answers to Krissy's questions… 

1.  What inspires you most  of all?

Engagement and dialogue and talking with people. Meeting new people of participating in discussions invigorate me. I get excited. I feel alive. I am energized by the exchange. 

I am inspired by my faith. One of the things I love most about Islam is seeing the many different faces and races at prayer. With so much drama and racism and sexism and folks segregating themselves. It's refreshing to see people not seeing you as a color, but as a brother and part of the human community.

2.  What is the best food you’ve ever tried while traveling?

When I used to live in Boston, the best food I ever ate was at a Dominican spot in Jamaica Plain. They made the best arroz con pollo. The lady would ask "Quieres jugo de pollo?" Do you want chicken juice on your rice? 

Do I? 

Claro que si!

3. What is your favorite holiday? Why?

My favorite holiday is any time I get to spend time with my wife. We have so much fun together. Traveling with her is the best. I am geeked about our next trip.

4. What is one school supply that you could not teach without?

Since I am an instructional technologist, the one school supply I absolutely need is my Macbook. Without, I couldn't deliver one workshop or do any of the other administrative aspects of my job. While I am thinking of it, I also need the internet. 

5. What’s your typical morning beverage?

I don't have a typical morning beverage. I prefer tea over coffee, but I normally don't make time to make myself a cup. My first beverage of the day is usually a soda. Yikes!

6. When you fly, window seat or aisle?

Easy. Window seat. I love looking out the plane and seeing what everything looks like. 

7. Describe the best teacher you had when you were in school.

My best teacher was my dissertation chair. Dr. Alyce LeBlanc is a champion of her students. She also knows how to get tough and how to get the best out of her students. Dr. LB will forever be a mentor. 

8. Do you enjoy cooking? Anything specific?

I can't say that I enjoy cooking. I very much do enjoy eating. 

My best dish used to be spaghetti, but my wife has bested me with hers. Currently, I am quite fond of my steak. However, I think the crockpot and the marinade do all of the work.

9. What book are you currently reading?

I am not currently reading a book. I read a lot of blog posts and magazines. My favorite magazine is Fast Company. Though, I am looking forward to buying Eric Sheninger's new book Digital Leadership

10. What’s your all time favorite movie?

"When Harry Met Sally" and "Brown Sugar." 

11. If at the end of your life, there is just room for one word on your grave marker, what do you think it will be?

Alhamdulillah (All praise is due to Allah (SWT).