Brussels , 11 April 2016
Chromebooks have rapidly established themselves as a popular purchase in schools in some countries. To have a closer look at the use of Chromebooks in schools, a collaboration between European Schoolnet, Acer and Google for Education, explored the impact of Acer Chromebooks and the associated Google tools on both pedagogical and administrative processes in the classroom and school.
The ‘Chromebook Research and Professional Development Programme’ involved a total of six schools already using Chromebooks: two schools from the Netherlands, three from the United Kingdom and one from Spain. At the heart of the project was supporting teachers’ professional development to enable them to use the technology in a pedagogically effective manner. The teachers were introduced to creating learning scenarios and learning activities using the Future Classroom Toolkit, developed by European Schoolnet in its previous pan-European project, iTEC. The ‘future classroom scenario’ approach puts teaching and learning in forefront and helps schools focus on benchmarking themselves on a maturity scale, identify areas for development and imagine how improvements could be made.
The teachers were invited to attend two workshops organized in the European Schoolnet’s Future Classroom Lab in Brussels. After the first workshop, Steve Cleave, Head Teacher from Compton, UK remarked that “As a busy head teacher I felt this was a brilliant use of my time and gave me the space to engage with other professionals and be enthused by ways forward in using technology to enrich learning. […] We are really committed here at school in using the learning from the course and the subsequent study to raise the standard of learning and teaching in our school.”
The schools expressed they had a very positive experience of using Chromebooks and Google apps. For example at Filey Junior School, UK, the use of the Chromebooks, combined with the Google management console and Google docs brought significant benefits to the administration of the school, as well as to teaching and learning. "Filey Junior School saw a 20% rise in scores for writing tests, thanks in part to the introduction of Chromebooks and the collaboration facilitated by Google Docs." Providing instant access to both curriculum and administrative data in the cloud, the management console facilitated analysis to inform the leadership team.
The teachers in the project also observed use of Chromebooks supporting in particular the development of students’ digital competence and collaborative skills. “We have seen a very positive impact on our pupils. They work much more collaboratively and independently. They are competent users of technology and confident to experiment and try out new ideas”, say Vicky Lambert and Matt Stace, teachers from Compton Church of England Primary School. One of the parents’ appreciated that the children didn’t need to carry books to the school and back. The teachers explored with new practices, for example changing their role from teaching to coaching and supporting students’ more independent learning. It was also observed in some schools, that encouraged by the example given by their colleagues, even the technology-skeptical teachers started trying out more applications.
What was particular about the project was the absence of usual complaints about technical malfunction of the devices. The Chromebooks were appreciated, in particular because of their speed of operation and the fact that they “always work”. Students liked their small size and rapid start-up.
Kate Howell, Product Marketing Manager at Google Education EMEA, comments that "We were enthusiastic to work with European Schoolnet and Acer on this project to understand how Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks could be used to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. We are pleased to see the results of the study, and to understand the beneficial ways the tools have been used in schools in Spain, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands."
“The results have been fantastic with educators not only enjoying the value of Google Apps for Education, but also the functionality, efficiency and robustness of the Acer Chromebooks used in the pilot”, Marius le Grange, Acer EMEA Education Lead, confirms.
“The combination of professional development and research offers a ‘win-win’ for the teachers to develop their practice using technology, and for industry to get impartial feedback on how their products and services are used in schools across Europe. The ‘future classroom scenario’ approach puts teaching and learning at the centre of the validation research service.” Dorothy Cassells, Project lead, Future Classroom Lab.
The Chromebook pilot was developed in the framework of Future Classroom Validation Service: it’s based on European Schoolnet's extensive experience in running small and large-scale school pilots and research and it gives support to ICT companies, start-ups, and research projects interested in carrying out school pilots.