Today is Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Over the past few months, social studies teacher Stephanie Downey and school librarian Gordon Jack have been working toward providing students with computers. Downey decided several weeks ago to raise money to purchase Google Chromebooks to give her students to have more access to computing technology at school. She was able to raise the money for the first 4 computers with donations from various acquaintances, but hopes to eventually purchase a total of 15 Chromebooks, enough to account for students without their own laptops.
“I chipped in $100 myself, $450 came from parent constituents of the students that I currently have in my classroom, and the remaining $450 came from my family friend network that I’ve posted on Facebook,” Downey said.
While Downey has been busy fundraising to bring this technology to her social studies students, Chromebooks have also become a highly sought-after commodity in the library. Jack recently helped purchase Chromebooks with two separate fundraisers via crowdsourcing websites. His first fundraiser raised enough money to purchase three Chromebooks. His second campaign, ending in early February, raised $7000, enough to purchase a class set of 27 Chromebooks.
“This has made me feel really good about the Los Altos community and how they value the library and see it as an important resource–that is really exciting for me,” Jack said.
Jack got the idea to buy the computers for the school library after seeing Palo Alto Public Libraries check the laptops out to patrons and decided to buy them after realizing their practicality.
“They’re light, fast, and efficient, and they just seem really great,” Jack said. “It’s a great device for [students] to get work done on, like papers or presentations or things like that. It’s a really fast web browser, so as they’re doing web research or other things like that, it’s really helpful.”
Downey invested in Chromebook laptops for a variety of reasons. The Chromebook has a solid-state hard drive, an eight-and-a-half hour long battery life and a webcam. Aside from the technical specifications of the machine, Downey found the versatility of the Chromebook and its ability to access various tools to be perfect for her classroom. Downey hopes to increase her students’ technological awareness and hone their computer skills.
“I wanted my students to have daily access to computing technology in school to work on things like 10-finger typing and just to increase everybody’s familiarity with computing technology,” Downey said. “I wanted my classroom to be a place where students continue to work on 21st century… skills that they’re going to use… regardless of what job they get. I hope to increase student comfort with technology as a broad goal.”
Downey’s digital notebook system combined with access to her new laptops allows students to take full advantage of the lecture notes, documents and material that she has on her website.
“The Chromebooks are very versatile and easy to use in the classroom,” sophomore Brandon Choy said. “I really enjoy using them since Ms. Downey’s class is based on Google applications such as Google Docs. The speed of the computer and its simplicity of connectivity allows me to be active and involved in the class.”
Fundraising for the next set of laptops has already been set into motion, as Downey recently received another $500 donation from an anonymous parent, who is coincidentally a Google employee. Thanks to the parent, Google has also offered to match the donation.