As the Coweta County School System plans to issue Chromebooks to all students in grades third grade and up at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, it also has steps in place to ensure the students’ safety with the technology.
The Chromebooks are part of the school system’s three-year technology plan created in 2014 by CCSS Technology Director Jason Olvey and staff, according to CCSS Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker. Its goal is to build the infrastructure to bring more technology into the hands of students for learning and day-to-day activities, specifically to a 1-to-1 ratio to students.
The project is estimated to cost $6.3 million, which will come from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
“Others school systems in Georgia and around the nation have moved to a 1-to-1 device environment in recent years,” said Dean Jackson, public information officer for the school system. “Our technology department surveyed a number of these – particularly Athens-Clarke County and Rockdale County School System in Georgia. They have accumulated experience and have developed policies and procedures in managing a large number of student-used devices.”
One way to ensure security with them is that the Chromebooks will be integrated into the school system’s Google environment and will only be able to be used by someone with student or employee login credentials.
In addition, Jackson said GoGuardian security software will be downloaded onto the devices.
“GoGuardian provides the devices with an installed operating filter that places access controls permanently on the device that is identical to our network protection software,” he said. “That way the devices can only be used for safe searches whether or not they are accessing a connection on the school system network or a home or public network.”
“GoGuardian software also allows us to track a missing device, and integrates with Google to allow the school system to wipe a device remotely, rendering it unusable,” he added. “This is often referred to as ‘bricking’ the device – making it a brick, essentially – and it can only be restored by the supplier.”
Teachers and educators will be able to download educational materials, including textbooks, to the Chromebooks. The school system is hopeful they will cut textbook costs by having them provided to students electronically.
“In another couple of years, I believe the devices will cost about what a single textbook costs,” Barker said at the April 12 school board meeting.
He added that the school system can leverage multiple textbooks through the devices.
To protect the devices, the school system will also implement: student use agreements before the Chromebooks are issued; permanent device etching with serial numbers and “property of” engraving; and accidental damage protection insurance.
Barker said he thinks the bids for the Chromebooks could be ready for the school board meeting in May. Each third to 12th grade student should be issued one during the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year.