The notebook computers, which start up instantly, run the browser-based Google Chrome operating system and integrate with
"In an effort to replace the older machines in our district with less funding, we found Chromebooks to be a great solution," Kern said.
Maize, a district of about 7,000 students that includes much of west Wichita, recently bought 1,000 Chromebooks at about
"If this works out great, we may just go ahead and get more," she said.
Chromebooks have been popular with educators since they were introduced about three years ago. The machines have a full-sized keyboard and look like traditional laptops but weigh less, start up instantly and can last an entire workday -- eight to 11 hours -- on a single battery charge.
The disadvantages: Chromebooks can't run traditional computer software, such as Microsoft Office. They lack drives for CDs and DVDs. And you can't make
"There's no perfect device. They all have advantages and disadvantages," Kern said. "We're finding that there are different areas where different devices work best, so we're not doing an all-or-nothing approach."
Like many districts, Maize employs a variety of desktop computers, laptops, Chromebooks and tablets. Some classes such as high school yearbook, photo imaging or computer-aided design require specialized software, so Chromebooks wouldn't work there, Kern said.
They are, however, an effective alternative for classes such as English and social studies, she said. Students can collaborate on papers or presentations and access them from anywhere using
Replacing traditional laptops with Chromebooks in those subject areas will allow the district to redistribute the laptops to other classes.
"What we're visualizing is more of a project-based approach to teaching," Kern said. "I think it will really open up some creative outlets for students and ... some super-creative projects."
Wichita administrators said recently that the state's largest district plans to experiment with Chromebooks as well.
"We hope to this fall, but haven't identified the specific product or schools at this point," spokeswoman
(c)2014 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)
Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services