As the 2013-14 school year approaches winter break at Freeburg Community High School, there is only positive feedback about the new 1-1 initiative where each student received a Samsung Chromebook at the beginning of the year.
The Chromebook is a Google-centralized mini laptop, with features such as access to Google applications, offline access to these applications and long battery life. The students have a wide range of accessibility in means of the Internet but are restricted from playing games, using movie sites and going onto any form of social networking site.
The teachers at Freeburg High School were given their Chromebooks around Easter of 2012, in order to learn how they work and plan their class's curriculum through the Chromebook, and find a way to go as close to paperless as possible in the first year of use.
The students were given their Chromebooks the second day of the 2013-14 school year, and the entire day was devoted to learning how to work it, the rules and regulations of Chromebook usage and setting up their personalized school account, and making sure their accounts worked.
The Chromebooks are insured, but only if the family of the student signed up for the insurance policy, which covers physical damage, water damage and software damage. Loaners are available for students who need a replacement Chromebook, whether they are damaged or the student did not charge their Chromebook the previous night. No student will ever be without a Chromebook.
Freeburg High School uses a grading website called Teacherease to share assignments, grades, announcements, and assessments to the students quickly and efficiently.
When asked in an interview, Principal Greg Frerking said, "Currently, I think the best benefit of the Chromebooks is the instantaneous feedback that students get when taking online assessments."
Junior Emily Hartmann said, "I like the way that if a grade is put in as a 0, I can immediately find out what's wrong and ultimately get the grade back."
Jill Dalke, a math teacher at Freeburg High, said "The Chromebooks provide a quick and easy way to take notes in every class. Whether they are shared via Google Drive, or typed manually, it is significantly faster than having each student hand-write them."
Mark Mueller, another Freeburg High math teacher, applauded "the benefit of having the notes, formulas and review sheets in front of you at any moment."
In addition to faster note taking, junior Emily Marler said, "I like the fact that you can save all of your papers/assignments and just share them to teachers without wasting paper. It's very convenient and green."
The Language Arts Department at Freeburg seems to be the most grateful for the Chromebooks. Using Google Drive, students can share documents with each other, and collaborate on group projects at the same time.
Freeburg High English teacher Michelle Etter said, "I like the Chromebooks because students are able to make Prezis, create blogs, and publish movies individually and as a team; even more valuable than the ability to navigate and use this technology, students are able to have conversations with a team of students, find answers to their questions, and learn how to create a product. I see our technology as a wonderful tool for students, not a learning outcome. This tool creates a much richer learning environment: it facilitates learning past the old lecture, notes, memorizing and regurgitating information like students in the past."
Technology at Freeburg High has been significantly increased this past year, and looking to the future, it does not seem to slow down. There are still problems to be fixed and new things to learn, but the community at Freeburg High School seems to be confident that in the near future, the school will be completely paperless. Frerking said it may take three to five years, but with the determination of the students and faculty, it may come sooner.