Congratulations to the Plainville, CT school system for their purchase of about 900 Chromebook laptops. These computers will be distributed to students in grades 8-12 for use at school and at home. Chromebooks can be purchased individually for about $250. I am sure Plainville paid less because of their volume purchase. These laptops can be used to access the Internet, communicate with staff and for completing written assignments. Too often school systems purchase computers costing well beyond the price of a Chromebook. Often this results in fewer computers because of their significantly higher unit cost. The decision regarding which brand of computer to purchase is too frequently determined by the personal preferences of teachers or administrators. The cost of hardware is simply ignored. Hopefully, in the future students will have access to all of their textbooks on computers resulting in significant savings for schools. If publishers fail to provide on-line texts, schools should take the initiative and have their staff create their own texts. Or these can be produced by the state and distributed to all schools. Another advantage of this undertaking is that textbooks can be tailored to meet the curriculum objectives of the district.
I believe the choice of laptops for students rather than tablets has significant advantages. Written work is facilitated when students have a standard keyboard. Students can be trained to touch type as early as grade 3. This may sound too ambitious, but I have taught keyboarding to third graders successfully when I was a computer specialist at an elementary school in Connecticut. Developing this skill early will serve students throughout their lives.