Trojan Treview: Chromebooks

by Teresa Solorio (she/her)

In the 2019-2020 school year, Petaluma City Schools started a new era: the age of the Chromebook. After the transition from using old-school paper and pen to iPads in 2015, PCS ended up with Chromebooks, the now-most helpful resource throughout the district. Some might say that they suck, but one could argue that it is the wifi and the web filter that constantly sabotage the Chromebooks.

According to David Fichera, PCS Director of Learning and Innovation Technology, the decision to move from iPads to Chromebooks in spring 2019 was recommended by the Learning and Innovation Committee, a group of teachers and administrators representing all PCS schools. The decision was based on stakeholder (meaning staff, student, and parents) feedback and a desire to equip students with devices that best fit their educational needs. Full access to Google Apps for Education and a physical keyboard were identified as top priorities for student devices, and the Chromebook made the most sense.

About 300 students piloted the 2-in-1 Chromebooks in preparation of the recommendation and over 90% preferred this device for schoolwork over an iPad with a keyboard. After meetings to discuss the decision, students, teachers, administrators and community members supported the Learning and Innovation Committee's recommendation to transition to the 2-in-1 Chromebook.

Fichera said, “I think that Chromebooks are very beneficial to students in that they can provide learning experiences that would otherwise not be available.”

After a few years of using the Chromebooks, students collectively claim that they suck but it’s the filter, which blocks websites and some searches, as well as the sometimes less-than-quick wifi that drag the Chromebooks down. On the positive side, these Chromebooks save paper, as classes have moved away from physical printed work and now most assignments are submitted via Google Docs and Google Classroom. Chromebooks were proven to be most useful during the online learning Zoom nightmare that was 2020-2021. Many teachers became comfortable being entirely online, as it proved to be a convenient and accessible way of teaching during the pandemic.

Overall, I give Chromebooks four Trojan stars out of five.