Samsung Chromebooks Help Close the Digital Divide for Passaic Students

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1 case study: Passaic City Public School District Samsung Chromebooks Help Close the Digital Divide for Passaic Students overview Customer Need Passaic City Public Schools, an urban district with 14,500 students located in northern New Jersey just 12 miles from New York City, was on the wrong side of the digital divide. Prior to 2012, none of the district s classrooms had wireless Internet and up to half of students lacked Internet at home, far below the state and national averages. With a limited budget and IT resources, the district needed an affordable 1:1 computing alternative to provide equal educational opportunities to its students, as well as to prepare for online testing when Common Core State Standards assessments begin in Samsung Solution Samsung s Chromebook 550 offered Passaic City Schools an ideal 1:1 computing solution a durable, easy-to-manage thin client in a portable, notebook form-factor. With Google s web-based management console, Chromebooks require much less IT support than traditional laptops and provide significant savings in total cost of ownership, according to a study by IDC.1 For students and teachers, they provide easy and quick access to a wealth of web-based learning resources and collaborative learning tools. Results In a phased deployment beginning in 2013, Passaic City Schools rolled out 5,000 Samsung Chromebooks to its middle and high school students, one of the largest 1:1 Chromebook deployments in the United States. Together with an infrastructure overhaul to make WiFi available throughout all of the district s 16 schools, the Samsung Chromebooks have dramatically transformed the learning environment for Passaic students, ensuring they will have the technology skills necessary to be competitive after graduation. The district also has bold plans to install directional Internet access points on the roofs of its school buildings to enable students to continue studying on their Chromebooks from home.

2 The Customer Passaic City Public Schools Passaic City Public Schools is an urban district with 14,500 students located within about a three-mile radius in northern New Jersey, 12 miles west of New York City. About 94 percent of these students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Technologically, the district sits on the wrong side of the digital divide. District surveys show that 25 to 50 percent of the students live in homes without Internet available, well below the state and national averages. Until 2012, none of the 16 schools in the district had wireless Internet available. The district had pursued educational innovation in other ways, such as through the Scholastic Co. s Read 180 reading intervention program using adaptive technology. Computers have been available in labs and for shared classroom use but not on a 1:1, take-home basis. In 2010, seeking to expand computer access, the district developed a plan to deploy netbooks (lightweight, affordable notebook computers) to students on a 1:1 basis. However, after assessing the costs and the difficulties of servicing a large number of devices for its IT department, the district chose not to proceed beyond the initial pilot. THE CUSTOMER NEED Low-cost, easy-to-manage mobile computing devices for 1:1 deployment Despite the challenges encountered in its previous 1:1 computing initiative, Passaic City Schools was committed to fulfilling its goal of providing access to computers and the Internet for all students. In early 2012, Director of Information Technology Joshua Koen had his eyes out for the right device one that would engage students, would be cost effective enough to be deployed on a large scale and would not put a massive strain on district IT resources. We had an ambitious goal to put devices in the hands of an underserved population, said Koen. This was our effort to provide equity so that our students will have an equal opportunity for success. Passaic City Schools has 14,500 students and 94 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Many of Passaic s students rarely leave the city or state of New Jersey, according to Joanna Antoniou, Technology Coordinator at the district s Lincoln Middle School. We want to open the doors for our students, she said. We want them to be able to not only communicate with the students in their school but to extend that to the state, the country and even to students from other countries as well. Not only did administrators want to provide a tool for virtual exploration at school, they also wanted students to have a webenabled, portable device that they could take home. They aimed to create a more personalized learning environment, foster increased student collaboration, and teach critical thinking and 21 st -century workforce skills. The fact that students may not have a computer at home or Internet access at home really puts them at a disadvantage when you re trying to compete in a global society, said Interim Superintendent Dr. Lawrence Everett. We want to get to a point where the students own their own learning. It was a transformative vision one which would require buy-in from teachers, who must learn new ways of integrating technology, making it even more critical that the chosen device be easy to use and reliable. 2

3 THE SAMSUNG SOLUTION Samsung Chromebook 550 In early 2012, Passaic City Schools identified the computing solution it had been looking for: a portable, web client that was easy to manage and cost effective enough that it could be provided to every student. The Samsung Chromebook was a case of the right solution at the right time, said Koen. Passaic started out with a pilot program comprised of about 800 students and 25 teachers from various disciplines at Lincoln Middle School and Passaic High School in fall The district was sufficiently impressed with the Samsung Chromebooks so it decided to expand to a full 1:1 computing program spanning grades 7 through 12 in Quick Profile: SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK 550 As used by Passaic City Public Schools DISPLAY: 12.1-inches; 1280x800 resolution WEIGHT: 3.3 lbs BATTERY LIFE: Over 6 hours 2 PROCESSOR: Dual Core Intel Celeron Samsung s Latest Offering: SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK The Samsung Chromebook 550 proved an affordable alternative to more expensive tablet PCs and laptops. For a one-time fee of $30 per device, Google provides schools the ability to remotely manage users, apps and policies across the entire fleet of devices via a web-based console, as well as 24/7 support directly from Google. The Chromebooks are great because they allow us quick and easy Internet access, said Antoniou. They are almost foolproof. The Chromebook turns on as soon as you open it. It has such a long battery life and it is so easy to use it makes them ideal for our classroom setting. With the Chromebooks, every Passaic student grades 7-12 will have access to the Internet. In the past, students had to wait in line to use computers in the library or classroom, said Antoniou. Having them available for each student is a total game-changer. Another game-changer comes on the IT side, said Koen. A traditional laptop needing repair might sit for one to two weeks awaiting a part or re-imaging from harried staff; and more significantly, a student s work might be lost. But with the Chromebook, a student can receive another device (the district ordered about 300 spares for its 4,700 secondary students) and continue working, since his or her work and programs are available in Google Drive in the cloud. In the past, if you were to deploy 5,000 laptops, you d have to image them, keep the anti-virus updated and update the operating system, explained Koen. With the Chromebook s management console, managing one is as easy as managing 5,000. When we want to deploy a new app or update, we add it to the management console and it applies to all 5,000. The bottom line, said Koen, is that the large-scale deployment carried out by Passaic would simply not have been possible with any other device. DISPLAY: 11.6-inches; 1366x768 resolution; 200nit brightness WEIGHT: 2.43 lbs. BATTERY LIFE: Up to 6.3 hours 2 PROCESSOR: Samsung Exynos 5250 MEMORY: 2GB 3 STORAGE: 16GB SSD 4 PORTS: 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combo headphone/mic jack, secure digital memory slot SPEAKER: 1.5W speaker X 2 KEYBOARD: Full-size Chrome keyboard WIRELESS: abg/n 2x2 SECURITY: TPM A study by IDC showed that in comparison to traditional PCs, Chromebooks reduced total ownership costs per device by up to $935 over a threeyear period. 1 3

4 Preparing Teachers to Use 1:1 Tools To help prepare for the use of Chromebooks in its classrooms, Passaic City Schools planned numerous professional development seminars and programs for its teachers. What we wanted to avoid is having teachers use the Chromebook as just a digital version of their textbook, said Antoniou. The Chromebook isn t a really expensive pencil. It s a way to make global connections. To show teachers the potential of the Chromebooks and the power of the educational transformation they have planned, Passaic educational leaders held a series of workshops, targeting key areas. Instructional changes in the classroom. The first session looked at the changing roles of both teacher and student, covering state standards and 21 st -century workforce skills, with discussion of ways to transform lessons that the kids can t answer just by typing questions into Google, said Antoniou. Internet safety and digital citizenship. Teachers discussed the impact of one s digital footprint, sexting, copyright laws, guidelines for taking and posting photos, and learned how to guide students in being careful with their online presence. Passaic City Schools Technology Coordinator Joanna Antoniou works with a student. Managing a 1:1 classroom. Teachers learned overall management tips when every student has a Chromebook at home and school, as well as how to plan and prepare for their first five days using the new tools. Developing a Personalized Professional Learning Network (PPLN). Teachers discovered how to use social media, such as Twitter, for professional development. Several PPLN sessions are planned for With the Chromebooks now deployed, the district continues to hold follow-up sessions to provide ongoing support. The district has employed technology integration specialists and trainers to continue to support professional development. Passaic has also worked hard to engage parents in the new 1:1 initiative, holding full-day parent workshops to explain the program and parents responsibilities. The response has been incredible, said Koen, with over 1,000 parents attending the sessions. The greatest challenge we have is we re really changing the entire culture, our procedures and protocols, said Dr. Everett. It s changing the whole mindset... it s a new way of learning, and it requires careful planning and preparation. 4

5 THE RESULTS 1:1 computing expands students horizons and bridges the digital divide The new 1:1 computing program with Samsung Chromebooks has had a transformative impact on the district. With the successful rollout to all students across grades 7 through 12, teachers are seeing students with a new excitement for learning. Samsung Chromebooks have been very helpful in my history class, explained Michael Lauricella, one of the first teachers to introduce the Chromebooks. Students are much more engaged and they are much more enthusiastic about the topic, and they work together collaboratively in a much better fashion. Lauricella said the Chromebooks empower him to teach in new ways and expand students horizons beyond the classroom walls. One particularly successful project was to have students create an interactive timeline of the French Revolution, incorporating video, pictures and their own voices to explain each development. Passaic students can now explore the world making an online fieldtrip to Paris, for example, or having a Google Hangout (video chat) with Parisian students. Chromebooks have transformed teaching and learning at Passaic City Schools. Passaic teachers have enthusiastically integrated and experimented with the technology, said Koen. They use Google Docs and Google Presentation, have students turn in assignments online, and encourage students to collaborate with peers and other teachers by leaving comments for students online, either in writing or using voice threads. Our teachers are readily adopting. They are hungry for this and are passionate about teaching these 21 st -century workforce skills to our students, Koen said. The district also has ambitious plans to provide Internet access to homes in the district by late summer Directional access points will be placed on the roofs of all 16 school buildings, broadcasting Internet to students living in nearby neighborhoods. Officials hope this will cover up to 25 percent of district homes, giving them access to the private district network to continue their studies at home. In coming years, the district also plans to phase in digital textbooks in place of printed texts. For me, one of the keys is that teachers are now able to create more meaningful lessons, activities and assessments that connect students to the real world, so they can make a difference in their own world, said Antoniou. Students with online connectivity tools and information at their fingertips can, for example, reach out to a city parks official to help design a much-needed park. When you have immediate and easy access to technology like the Chromebooks give us, said Antoniou, this opens doors for everyone. Learn More SAM4BIZ Education. Innovated. 1 Quantifying the Economic Value of Chromebooks for K 12 Education, IDC Whitepaper, August Battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, power management settings, applications used and wireless settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and use. 3 Total amount of available memory may be less based on configuration. 4 Accessible capacity varies; MB = 1 million bytes; GB = 1 billion bytes; TB = 1 trillion bytes. Please note that a portion of the hard drive is reserved for system recovery, operating system and preloaded content software Samsung Electronics America, Inc. All rights reserved. Samsung is a registered trademark of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. All products and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies. Screen images simulated. This case study is for informational purposes only. Samsung makes no warranties, express or implied, in this case study. 5

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