So in the previous post we discussed Chromebook’s rise in popularity. Now, take a look at this video and see if this doesn’t excite you!
Think of how you use a computer. What do you use most? Apps like MS Office? Application specific things like video, CAD, or something else? I will guess that most of you use the browser the majority of the time. Maybe all the time. That’s what makes Google’s Chrome OS on the Chromebooks so interesting. You really do not have anything but the Chrome browser. Then factor in a decent price, $200-500 for 2 to 4gb, you can definitely see the possibilities in schools. We decided to investigate them more. We used a couple, but just recently decided to go with 20 more of the Samsung version. Of course they are back ordered until the end of the month. Seems even Google did not anticipate their popularity. A recent Google blog posting (http://googleenterprise.blogspot.ca/2013/02/a-look-back-at-2012-expansion-of.html) reports that over 2,000 schools now use large numbers of Chromebooks. Not sure if our 20 counts are large numbers, so I doubt we are included in the 2,000, but I definitely continue to hear buzz about these. So much so that our state Department of Public Instruction continues to look into making them work with their various testing applications.
Now we hear more manufacturers coming out with their own versions. Samsung was the first with a couple varieties. Acer, I believe, was also one of the originals. Now we hear about models from HP and Lenovo. Higher specs too, as much as 4GB of RAM. Pretty remarkable in such a short amount of time too. Really, you may not even need that, as you just run a browser, so the low end specs, of which we purchase, should work fine. Exciting times, that is for sure!
I always thought the Gimp a good photo editing software. Of course it gets even better if you can use your Android tablet as a sketch pad to your computer. Think how powerful this could be in an art class or even just in a regular classroom?
What college student doesn’t like free textbooks? Heck, you tell your parents to send money for texts, use free ones, and you pocket the rest, right? Boundless, a site that uses Creative Commons textbooks, will allow you to do that. Of course, K12 Open Source Classroom will not condone that though!
Boundless (www.boundless.com) seeks to provide open content to students. They work with the Open Educational Resources community to provide this free content.
So you go to the site, create an account, and choose your school and then classes. This is exclusively a higher ed entity at this time, but I can definitely see the promise for high school in the future. As you go through your courses, you will find some open textbooks. It does not seem like all the courses provide open texts, but my school I used to sign-up, North Carolina State (go Wolfpack!) has some using Boundless. You can also just browse an entire list of available texts at https://www.boundless.com/textbooks/. You can find a wide variety of courses from Accounting to Art History and from Marketing to Microbiology. When you drill down into a course you find a nice outline, and then your actual text. Boundless also provides other materials like study guides, quizzes, and flash cards for registered users. Pretty nice tool!
How great for a college student! If all their classes supported this, they would probably only need something like a tablet device for school. Instead of the hundreds of dollars put toward textbooks, put that to a device (although making sure to put a little to the good folks at Boundless who run the site–they need to eat too!). Do the publishers like this? Of course not, but they have had their run. Now it is time for us to shift directions, getting more crowd-sourced, current information. More engaging and interactive content as well. Now, just to see it at the high school level!