Chromebook pilot brings improvements

With our current school-issued laptops retiring at the end of this year, FCPS is looking into better options.

The FCPS central IT office chose Marshall as one of the schools piloting new Chromebooks this year. This means select students are testing out machines that may be used next school year.

“It’s just a trial period to see whether or not those devices will work here,” technology support specialist Robert Wagner said.

Wagner used a selection process involving random people from a report of those who had logged in to their FCPS laptops repeatedly for a number of days.

Wagner said this was to make sure the students piloting are actually using FCPS laptops.

“I think they’re considering the Chromebook because once you log into the Chromebook, it logs you right into Chrome,” he said, “and you know, since you’re already using Google Drive and Gmail, it just makes it that much easier for the student.”

For this version of the Chromebook, the students do not have access to Microsoft Office or the option to print to school printers.

“If [the FCPS IT central office] decides to move forward with that device, then they would have to explore a way for students to have access at least to Office through a virtual environment perhaps,” he said.

The central office gives out weekly Google forms for the pilot students to check in and give feedback.

“You basically just say what software you had to use or what websites and stuff you had to use, and how your experience was with it,” sophomore Toni Oluwehinmi said. “I’m assuming after we get them back, they’ll have something more detailed that you have to fill out.”

Oluwehinmi said other than it running smoother, the machine’s battery life was a plus.

“I don’t need to bring my charger to school anymore,” she said. “The battery life is much better for the Chromebook. I think my computer has been on like 70 or 80 [percent] for like three days.”

Sophomore Ellie Baldwin agreed that the Chromebooks are a big improvement.

“I’m happy to get one because the Dell laptops are getting really old,” Baldwin said. “So it’s kind of annoying to use one because it was breaking all the time.”

Sophomore Kadyn Kalb agreed.

“I love the Chromebooks,” she said. “They are easier to use than the Dell laptops, [and] they’re slimmer and faster.”

Junior Zoe Jones said there were some noticeable differences.

“The display is different than the Dell computer because a lot of the keys are different,” she said. “I’d say definitely I don’t like the fact that we can’t do right click on anything, which is really weird.”

Despite these, Jones agreed it was an improvement.

“Overall I think it’s a good computer, [but it] just requires a bit of learning to get used to it,” she said.

Whether FCPS decides to use Chromebooks next year is yet to be seen, but they are definitely in the running.