Evanston Township High School students and teachers are using their new Chromebooks to access new resources, communicate better and learn about the IT field, according to a Feb. 9 update given to the Board on District 202’s 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative.

At the beginning of this academic year, ETHS deployed more than 1,000 Google Chromebooks, primarily to incoming freshmen. “As faculty and staff have incorporated more technology into ETHS classrooms, the demand for devices to be in the hands of our students has quickly outgrown supply,” said Mike Corcoran, Chief Technology Officer, in his report to the board. “Instead of continuing to purchase, set up and support cumbersome carts of mobile devices, the District opted to begin a meticulously planned deployment of Google Chromebooks.”

David Chan, director of IT, showed charts and graphs showing the increased use of Google Docs, email and educational websites. He also showed a map indicating students are using their Chromebooks in “all parts of Evanston.” Mr. Chan reported that there have been only five losses or thefts – less than 1% – all of them occurring outside the school. When a loss is reported, tracking via WiFi can be activated, which has helped in finding misplaced tablets in the school.

Students or teachers having problems with their Chromebook can go to the “ChromeZone.” Volunteer student techs handle all loaners, warranties, insurance and invoicing for repairs. The volunteers have logged in more than 200 community service hours so far. They can “change a screen in under five minutes,” said Mr. Chan. Starting next year, there will be a credited course where students work in the ChromeZone as part of the class.

ETHS English teacher Anita Thawani talked about how she had been “resistant” to the technology, that she was a “paper-and-pencil teacher.” But the 1:1 program has exceeded her expectations, she said. The Chromebooks allow for more “self-directed learning” and “accessing of resources and tools to further thinking.” She also has been “amazed” at how her students communicate more and more with her via email.