Two years ago, when I learned that I would be receiving a set of iPads, my classroom use of and personal learning about technology underwent a paradigm shift. It was a process that, from the beginning, I was exited about. It led me down the pathway where I was able to learn about iStuff (before this, my experience was limited to the pc/andriod realm), teaching with mobile devices, and composition across platforms and apps.
Now, I'm finding myself an another (really, really, really exciting) spot where I'm going to be able to figure out how to make Chromebooks fit into teaching and learning, as I was recently told that my class was selected to pilot a class set of them for the district.
Before I begin writing about what is sure to be my next edtech paradigm shift, there is a secret that I need to share. One that I have never before told anyone...
Back when I was told that I would be receiving a set of iPads, part of me was a little sad. I was at a place where I could have a set of netbooks in my room on most days. I was excited about how well different Google apps were working in my teaching, and I was feeling like I had a great handle on making technology work really well in my classroom. I felt like I found excellent balance of different Google apps, a host of web tools, and a whole lot of writing. I had also just began using the Chrome browser more purposefully in my class, teaching students how to make different Chrome extensions work for them.
With the iPads, the typing required for large scale writing assignments would become arduous, and since most the web tools I had been using didn't work (or at least not as well) on the mobile device, I would have to go out and find free apps that would sort of do the same thing. The iPad was new and shiny, I definitely would have liked them in my students hands for some tasks, but I was worried that if they were the sole device my students could use then the pace and quality of students learning (and my teaching) with technology would slow way down.
Around the time when I found out that I was receiving iPads, I heard about these devices that had just hit the market called Chromebooks. They cost way less then iPads, were purposed around the Chrome browser and Google apps, and would seamlessly fit into the system I had going in my class. I secretly wished that it was these devices that my students would be receiving instead. This is something which I have never told a soul, because as any teacher knows: you just don't complain about getting a class set of iPads. You just don't.
Of course, as I learned about the capabilities of iPads, my attitude towards these mobile devices changed. There was plenty that they could do that a netbook couldn't (or just couldn't do as well), and I was really starting to like the way that these features were reshaping my class.
It was about the time that I was feeling pretty glad about not telling anyone about my initial doubts about iPads, that I got an email from my district's tech person that I would be receiving a class set of Chromebooks as part of a pilot, and that the iPads I had been using would be relocated to another classroom.
Part of me wants to keep in my initial feelings (a lesson I found valuable in the anecdote above). But a bigger part of me knows that I should write them down, because I think that it would have been really valuable of me do more of this the last time.
I'm not going to get into all the particular details about what I'm thinking about doing with the Chromebooks. Those will have to go in their own post later. My initial feelings, I think, are what I want to get down here. So yea, I'm a little sad to no longer have the set of iPads in my classroom. That my students won't be using all these cool creation apps and smashing them together to compose, and I won't be continuing to read and write into an educators' conversation that I feel like I'm just getting to know and find a place in.
So now that that's said, documented, and out of the way, I also need to say that the other 80 percent of my initial feelings are pure excitement. I'm excited that my students get to pilot new technology for the school, That I can re-immerse myself in the thinking I was doing about the Chrome browser. My students can access the full version of Google Apps and type on a full keyboard (which, by the way, almost all of my students swear up and down that the prefer to type on a touch screen...having watched them do this for a couple of years, I'm really interested in seeing how they write with physical keys).
Lastly, and most importantly, I'm excited because I know that there is so much I don't know about Chromebooks in the middle school ELA classroom, and that is soon about to change.