This past summer, I had the pleasure of visiting a room where students worked on their Chromebooks with smiles on their faces as they read peer commentaries on: summer fashion, the latest Bruno Mars, Beyonce and Taylor Swift music, how to study for specialized high school tests and whether the circus was inhumane to its performing elephants. The teacher/side coach could audio comment privately on each student work or team work and also curated series of videos of students doing research. Students in another classroom were using their Chromebooks to prepare 90 second reports for a podcast which they timed and rehearsed plus shared with one another as well as shared with peers from the school program Chromebook community for commentary. They refined and rerecorded their audio reports based in peer reaction, plus the teacher weighed in with specific tips for cleared content and clearer slower enunciation. Student fact checkers were also compiling web sources reliable videos/you tube pieces to back up news reports. In a science lab, students were reading about Zeka virus on Newsela and Achievement 3000 and determining what the most effective poster or video infomercial content might be for various audiences including expectant mothers planning to travel and other travelers. Each Chromebook student grouping had students, engaged with one another and working away on projects with product based deadlines. A student videographer was filming the different groups and joy was evident. They were having fun and creating real world student owned and student interest centered news and public health products. Fun!!! Not a usual desired result in this data driven and often dreary world of education accountability.
Are Chromebooks just a fun tech tool? Another toy to enjoy for students who need to be disciplined to master the rigors of content, skills and perseverance? No!! Research is starting to emerge that Chromebooks are not only a sleekly designed tool but also have value as a tool for honing student academic, personal 21st century success, and technology tooled product based development skills.
• Michigan State University Professor Binbin Zheng has done a meta-analysis of 15 years of research studies. This analysis documented that chromebooks :
1. Have a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English Language Arts, Writing, Math and Science.
2. Positive benefits associated with Chromebooks used by students for personalized learning include enhanced student technology skills, increased student centered instruction, and project based learning.
3. Chromebooks foster better relationships between teachers and students and among students as a community connected by Chromebooks.
4. Effect size of .25 standard deviations for Science, .20 standard deviations for Math and Reading.12 are statistically significant.
5. Use of Chromebooks improved student problem solving skills and enhanced their ownership of their learning.
While Zheng’s findings are among the first in this burgeoning new age of research about the efficacy of using Chromebooks as part of ongoing multi-content learning and teaching, use of Chromebooks can and will foster what researcher Elliot Solowoy calls students “constructive” learning- figuring out something.
So ongoing research focused on the academic, personal learning and 21stcentury skills inculcated by Chromebook classroom use is indicative of positive results. Not to worry, the students can safely continue to have FUN as well!!
From Dr. Rose Reissman- Director of Academics and Grant Funding