Using Google for Education to Prepare for Online Assessments
The upcoming PARCC and Smarter Balanced online assessments require students to use secure, locked-down machines. When district leaders invest in this equipment, they should also consider selecting devices that will support increased student achievement and college and career success, such as Google Chromebooks. This web seminar, originally broadcast on February 26, 2014, featured a Google for Education team member, who discussed the unique benefits of Chromebooks and how these machines can be used for online assessments. Also featured was a technology administrator, who presented his district’s experience deploying Google Apps for Education and using Chromebooks for assessments.
At Google, we believe that open technology is the key to improving education. Some of our education offerings include Google+ Hangouts and the Google Art Project. We are investing in technology and providing transformative products and tools for education.
Our Google for Education team is built on four pillars:
Empowerment: Discovering a world of infinite resources. Together, teachers and students can use the web to learn. Teachers can guide students to the right information.
Choice: Using the right device, anytime anywhere. What good is information if it is not accessible outside the classroom? Students should have reliable access to devices that allow them to get to the information they need. We want teachers and students to use the right device for their desired learning objective, be it a laptop, tablet, phone or desktop in school, at home, or anywhere they may be.
Teamwork: Working together in real time, wherever you are. Google’s suite of communication and collaboration tools, including email, calendar and documents, are free for schools and let students and staff work and learn together from anywhere, on any device, at any time.
Scale: Creating affordable and easy-to-manage devices matters. By having affordable devices, more students can have access to technology. We also built devices with administrators in mind, so that the total cost of ownership is low and it is easy to manage 1000s of devices and content from a web-based platform.
One of the key reasons why schools are adopting Chromebooks is the ease of setup and management. From the admin control panel, it is easy to deploy 10 or 10,000 devices. It is managed from the same panel in one web tool. You can set different policies for different groups in your district. We have designed the Chromebook to maximize impact in the classroom. Batteries last the whole day, and boot-up time is less than eight seconds. Once students log into a Chromebook, they have access to all of their apps and information. From the admin control panel, you can access the PARCC and Smarter Balanced test applications. This allows you to do testing in your district from a seamless, integrated control panel.
Chromebooks are verified by PARCC and Smarter Balanced for all online student assessments. Assessments can be done on a Chromebook through provider-issued accounts, through a public session kiosk mode or through a single app kiosk mode. Google offers clear instructions for how to do these assessments in these different modes.
Passaic City (N.J.) Public Schools I oversee the
Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education deployment in my K12 district. We currently have over 6,000 Chromebooks deployed. We are 1-to-1 in grades seven through 12. Why did we choose Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education as our platform for collaborative learning? To be honest, it was a perfect storm. What we were looking for in device and educational needs just fit into the Google model. When we decided we were going to go 1-to-1, we discussed two things, educational objectives and device needs.
We came up with three educational objectives:
- To make sure we were providing our students with 21st-century workforce skills, such as digital-age literacy, inventive thinking, effective communication and high productivity
- To fulfill the technology requirements of the Common Core State Standards
- To fulfill the PARCC technology specifications for testing
Google for Education was the answer to meeting all these objectives. We also came up with seven criteria for selecting a device. Google Apps for Education had to work with it. It also had to support cloud computing so we did not have to worry about any loss of data. Students had to be able to pick up their work from any machine. A short boot time was essential, because instructional time is very important. We wanted devices that were easy to manage and that would give us the ability to push policies down from one location without having to touch any of the devices. To fulfill PARCC requirements, we wanted a device that had a keyboard. We also required battery life to last at least six hours, the entire school day. Dealing with viruses, imaging and installation of programs takes up a lot of staff time. We wanted a device that did not require these actions. Google Chromebooks met all of these criteria.
Information changes daily, and Google Apps for Education and Chromebooks change daily to keep up. Google teachers do not hear things like “I forgot to save my work” or “This is an old version of my paper.” Google Drive saves everything in real time. The capability of the Google platform puts most teachers at ease, because anything done on the back end is just pushed down. No one is coming into classrooms imaging computers. Teachers can personalize their classes’ experience with different apps and web pages. There are many benefits with Chromebooks from a staff perspective. When you are preparing for an assessment, you can lock down a testing atmosphere with Chromebooks. You also use Google Apps for Education as an LMS. Teachers can stay in touch with their students during snow or sick days. Students can receive personalized corrective criticism that is much more meaningful than comments written in red ink on a paper.
From the student perspective, there is no longer a need to worry about remembering to carry folders or books on a daily basis. In the past, students may have done exemplary work that was lost for whatever reason, but not anymore. They are now creating real-time portfolios from the time they first log in until their senior year. The intention is that when a student graduates, they have a partial resume to take with them to college. Education drives the technology, not the other way around. I advise districts to go slow to go fast. If you try to implement 1-to-1 too quickly, it will not come out the way you want it. Avoid the “$1,000 pencil” trap. Transform learning; do not do things the same as you have always done.
We saw an immediate improvement in student engagement after implementing Chromebooks. Students are taking pride in their work because they know it might be publicized. We are doing a lot of Google+ Hangouts so students can learn from other students around the world. During the 2012-13 school year, we knew PARCC was coming. We decided to start planning an environment in which our students could test securely and safely. We wanted to make sure students would not have access to other websites, which is easy to do in the Chromebooks management console. We piloted this with our district’s eighth-grade algebra placement test. We pushed a form down from the management console; when students opened up a Chromebook, that form automatically opened up. We got a first look at what could happen during PARCC testing. We then discovered the Pearson TEST NAV app. We set up our caching servers and laptops for the field test that is coming up and then tested this app on Chromebooks. This was incredibly easy to use. We are now PARCC ready.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to http://districtadministration.com/ws022614.