La Cañada Unified School District

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Chromebook Program for Grades 5-11 » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is 1:1 or BYOC?

1:1 is an abbreviation for one to one computing, or each student having access to a device. Our goal is to continue our Bring Your Own Chromebook (BYOC) program again this year, with students having their own devices starting in 5th grade through 10th grade. This means that they would have a laptop with them in class each day. The laptop will go from home to school.

Why start in 5th grade?

5th grade is an important year for our students. They have had a year of experience of being at school all day, they have had practice working in groups, and have become accustomed to the increased rigor of upper-grade coursework. The 5th-grade teaching staff demonstrated an eagerness to experiment and add technology to their daily lives this school year. We have seen these students take responsibility and ownership of their devices.

What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that isn’t a Mac or PC; it uses the Chrome Browser exclusively. You don’t have to download any special software or set anything up. The students use their school Google account to access all their documents, presentation, and coursework. Chromebooks cost around $300: if your student uses the device for 2 years, that’s $150 per year, with potential costs spread out to a third year, if possible.  Over the past few years, we’ve seen our students gain confidence using these devices, which offers our students a first step into a more personalized learning experience. The Chromebook is what one school dubs “a science lab, literacy tool, research station, history archive, language lab, art canvas, and library.” The Chromebook is a simple device that can do many things, but at its core, it sets the tone as a device meant for learning. Learn more about Chromebooks here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromebook

My student already owns a laptop or iPad. Can we send that to school?

We love the Chromebooks because they are easy to use and require very little maintenance. They start up instantly, so students can get right to work. Also, the devices aren’t susceptible to traditional computer viruses, so you don’t need anti-virus software. In the rare case of a computer glitch, our trained staff can restore the device to “factory-fresh” in minutes, while students don’t lose any important files. In classrooms, the simplicity of the device means that the learning curve is very short, allowing students and teachers to focus on the class curriculum. If we had students bringing in any type of the device, it would be very difficult to ensure a similar experience: the variety in software applications, operating systems, battery life, troubleshooting, ports and connectors, wifi connectivity--there is value for our students and the smooth running of a classroom when all devices are similar. Think about the importance of all students having the same translation of a novel or textbook. For our pilot, we need to remove the variables that could interrupt the learning. On the tech support, having a variety of devices poses a challenge. On a Chromebook, most tech support involves a simple restart. Everyone can do that.

Chromebooks can be managed for classroom use in ways that are not possible with other devices: we can quickly configure wifi settings, send updates, and filter and block malicious websites. We also have a classroom management system that works seamlessly with the Chromebook to allow teachers to distribute files and links, as well as to monitor the screens of students while inside the classroom.

What is the management license offer?

We have a special license for each Chromebook that a student brings to school. When a student opens the Chromebook for the first time, he or she needs to press Control + Alt + E, and then sign in with their school Google account. This enrolls the Chromebook and allows them to access district software, Internet filtering when at school, and wifi access. All without special configuration beyond the first sign on. We require all Chromebooks to be managed. This allows classroom management software and wireless network configuration to work seamlessly. 

 

How will the 1:1 pilot be funded?

 

For this program to work, we need to hit a threshold of 75% participation in the form of parents purchasing a Chromebook. You will get our educational discount if you go through our vendor (this allows for easy integration to the wireless network and full integration with academic services only available to devices managed by the district). Of course, you can shop anywhere, just meet the minimum specifications outlined here

 

Without parent support, we cannot continue this needed innovation in education. Other districts have raised special taxes to fund their 1:1, some have bonds. Neither are sustainable models. For us, we need the commitment from the families that they value this program through adding a reasonably priced laptop to the back to school supply list, and not counting on special funding to build a long-term program.

 

What if I choose not to participate or the program will cause a financial hardship?

 

Please complete this equity device request form to help us gauge need. Once this loan form is completed and returned to the District Office, we can arrange delivery/pick-up. Your student will be provided a device during registration for LCHS, or on the first day of school for 5th and 6th. 

 

How often will the Chromebooks be used in class?

This will vary based on class topics and project. Think of the Chromebook as a tool within arm’s reach at all times. Teachers will work to balance the needed offline educational experiences that develop critical skills with the power of online activities such as research, collaboration, and content creation. All students will be taught how to use the various software applications that come with the Chromebook (word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, website design, etc.) by the classroom teacher or an LCUSD technology specialist, with opportunities for practice and advanced application happening throughout the school year.


What happens if my student forgets the Chromebook at home?

Students are expected to have their Chromebooks at school, fully charged each day. When possible, we will have a spare to use for the day, but this is not guaranteed. While not every lesson will require technology, we must stress the importance of having this vital learning tool in class each day. Just like a pencil or a notebook, a student who does not have the required tools will be missing out on class activities like research, collaboration, or publishing of work.

What happens if the Chromebook is damaged or stolen?

Our students, for the most part, have set a fine example of care for their Chromebooks.  However, accidents do happen. And while Chromebooks are inexpensive and parts are simplified, we recommend purchasing Chromebook insurance. We’ve contracted with an insurance company who manages all our claims, with zero deductible, for a very low rate. For under $40 for one-year coverage (about $80 for two years), the policy will cover drops, spills, theft, vandalism, etc. You can submit a claim via a simple website, ship your device out for free, and within about 2 weeks, have your child’s device back in your hand. During that time, the school will issue a loaner device to your child for free--and he or she will have the same instant access to all their files, which are stored in the cloud.

To help prevent damage, we recommend all students have a hard-shell or soft-sleeve case for their device, and to exercise caution when putting their Chromebook into their backpacks, lockers, car trunks, etc.  Chromebooks come in a lot of flavors: thin, sleek, and shiny (but delicate) or thick, chunky, rubber-clad and tough--and many in between.  We recommend purchasing a model with your child in mind.  

Can students in other grades start bringing a Chromebook if they have one at home?

All students in grades 5-11 will be part of the BYOC program. Students in grades 3/4 and 12 will have access to shared carts that can be checked out by teachers.  Students in grades 12 will be allowed to bring a personal device to school to work on class projects if they choose. Usage will be at the discretion of the teacher.  

What will be used to support typing skills?

Now, more than ever, typing skills are vital for people of all ages, and we want to make sure our students are building these foundational skills. The district has purchased a subscription to Typingclub.com for all 2nd-8th grade students. They can work on lessons at home and school by logging in with their Google accounts. We encourage you to take a look at these activities as your child is working on them--lessons are fun, engaging, and age-appropriate. We will be piloting a new, developmentally appropriate program for our 2nd graders starting in the fall and will share details out via classroom teachers.