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Moore County students receive their Chromebooks

Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015 at 10:00 am

Moore County High School senior Taylor LaCook (left) receives her Chromebook from teacher Darren James during the initial launch of the program on Monday night. Half of Moore County students in grades 7-12 received the learning device on Monday, while the other half received them on Tuesday. Students in grades K-6 are expected to get them soon. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

Moore County High School senior Taylor LaCook (left) receives her Chromebook from teacher Darren James during the initial launch of the program on Monday night. Half of Moore County students in grades 7-12 received the learning device on Monday, while the other half received them on Tuesday. Students in grades K-6 are expected to get them soon. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Half of the Moore County High School and Moore County Middle School student body received their new Acer Chromebooks on Monday as the Moore County Board of Education (MCBoE) began its initial rollout of the state-of-the-art learning devices.

Each student in Moore County in grades 6 through 12 will have the device — an Acer model C740 that features a 1,366 x 768 display, a 16GB solid-state drive and a 9-hour battery — to take home with them. Others in grades K-4 will have the devices to use at school, while those in the fifth grade will be able to take the devices home occasionally beginning after the Christmas break.

The launch of the new learning device here in Moore County came about a week earlier than expected. Moore County Director of Schools Chad Moorehead told the school board that each student was expected to have a new Chromebook by Labor Day.

That target date is right on track as the second half of the students in grades 7-12 were expected to pick up their Chromebooks on Tuesday evening.

Prior to ordering the Chromebooks, Moorehead said he reached out to other educators in the state in order to shorten the learning curve for teachers and administrators here.

“I got a lot of good advice,” Moorehead said. “I sent out a lot of emails and I got a lot of good feedback from them … the potholes to avoid.”

One thing did surprise Moorehead while seeking input. He discovered that no other school system he was in contact with in the state had a Chromebook — or similar learning device — for each and every student in its school district.

While the MCBoE governs a relatively small school district, likewise its budget is relatively small as well. So it’s no small feat for Moore County to have a 1:1 student to Chromebook ratio in grades K-12. Moorehead was proud of that fact and the strides that the county has made to improve the learning process.

According to engadget.com, Chromebooks are a big deal for schools because they’re inexpensive and relatively easy to lock down. According to an April 14 story featured in thejournal.com, the Chromebook has given school districts an affordable alternative to other higher priced technology.

Unlike an iPad, the Chromebook is more like a traditional laptop, complete with a keyboard. It’s Wi-Fi ready also.

The Google-inspired device includes a built-in keyboard, stores most of its files online and runs applications directly from the Internet. Both Acer and Samsung put Chromebooks into the “computer” menu on their website, and give tablets their own pages.

Regardless of how the Chromebook is classified, it’s filling a gap that addresses specific educational needs. Moorehead said that the school system budgets between $75,000 and $90,000 annually on textbooks, depending on the subject that needs to be updated. Currently, textbooks are on a six-year rotating cycle.

TheJournal.com also says that one reason educators have gravitated to the HP-built Chromebooks is for the use of the Google Apps for Education, the free suite of online applications for word processing, spreadsheet work and presentations. Chromebooks are almost purpose-built for those programs.

“We are going to get away from textbooks. There are several systems that are developing online textbooks,” said Moorehead. “There’s (a group) putting together online content that will cover Tennessee standards.

“We will focus those (textbook) funds on keeping our devices freshened and we will use online content. We will also try to use free online content.”

For the complete version of this story, pick up a copy of the Aug. 27 print edition of The News, or click to subscribe.

—By ROBERT HOLMAN, Publisher (mcnpub@lcs.net)

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