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Chromebooks for Education: The Newest Addition to the School Supply List

Chromebooks for Education: The Newest Addition to the School Supply List

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

There is a new trend sweeping the nation’s high schools, and It’s not a latest K-pop dance craze or viral video challenge. We’re talking about Chromebooks. According to Colorado’s 9News,  some schools in Jefferson County, CO have recently begun to require that all students purchase Chromebooks.

In Jefferson County, administrators have taken the initiative to level the playing field for all students and decrease distraction by having the students run the same Chromebook devices. Schools in Nevada already have the Nevada Ready 21 initiative which has gone 1:1, supplying Chromebooks to every student in public school throughout the entire state.

The big question that may keep coming up in the future as more and more schools begin to implement 1:1 programs with Chromebooks is, “Why Chromebooks?”

Chromebooks Are Education-Ready, Rugged, and Reliable

Chromebooks run on the Chrome OS and automatically update to ensure that the device is always running the latest security upgrades. The battery life on a Chromebook is excellent, lasting a full school day, and in some cases like our NL61TX, lasting 13 hours! In case of loss or theft, the devices can be locked out and will only display information upon return of the device. Because of the Chromebook’s affordable nature, costing between $155-$300, it is a great option for 1:1 implementation. From ease of use to affordability, the Chromebook has become the #1 device that K-12 schools are choosing in the entire U.S.

Google for Education: Tech for Teachers

Along with the Chromebook, Google is changing the way that schools are using technology in the classroom with G-Suite for Education.  G-Suite for Education includes the Google apps most users are already used to like Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive, Docs, Forms, Groups, Sheets, Sites, Slides, and Hangouts, but also it includes education-specific apps like Classroom and Vault.

Google Classroom allows teachers to send and receive assignments and resources digitally. Teachers are able to monitor and track progress and due dates, and having assignments on the Chromebook eliminates the “dog ate my homework” excuse entirely.

Collaboration with peers and instant updates and feedback from teachers make classrooms efficient and grading student work more thorough and faster.

Google Vault ensures that the data is archived and protected for legal compliance for schools. Google Vault holds, retains, searches, and exports data from Gmail, Hangouts, Groups, and any files stored in Drive.

Vault also helps schools comply with both FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) regulations regarding the protection of minors on the internet.

Why CTL Chromebooks and 1:1 Solutions?

For years, CTL has been helping schools go 1:1 with specially designed ultra-rugged Chromebooks for education, whiteglove deployment offerings, and a variety of software options to help with classroom management and student engagement.

Monthly Professional Development Webinars are also included when you go 1:1 with CTL ensuring that educators and administrators are always up-to-date on the latest tips and tricks and offerings for getting the most out of using Chromebooks in the classroom.

There has never been a better time to jump ahead of the curve and implement Chromebooks into your schools. If you’d like to know more about going 1:1 or implementing Chromebooks in the classroom, including special pricing for educational customers, CTL Rocks Grant opportunities, and the benefits of Chromebooks, contact one of our sales reps today.

View the video below to watch Jefferson County’s Administrators discuss why they are requiring their students to purchase Chromebooks:

If you’re interested in the possibility of implementing a 1:1 program from CTL in your classroom or school district, contact us today! We’d be happy to help you figure out if going 1:1 is right for you!

CTL Helps Bring Digital Equity To Nevada’s Remotest Corners; Students and Schools Transformed by Successful 1:1 Program

CTL Helps Bring Digital Equity To Nevada’s Remotest Corners; Students and Schools Transformed by Successful 1:1 Program

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

The Comprehensive 1:1 Solution that CTL Provided for Nevada Ready 21 (NR21) Addresses Digital Equity, from Urban Centers to even in the Remotest Corners of Rural Nevada to.

First year results from CTL’s partnership with Nevada Ready 21 (NR21) have been celebrated at the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) conference in San Antonio and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in Houston. Additionally, CTL’s J5 Convertible Chromebook was voted “ISTE 2017 Best of Show” by Tech & Learning Magazine.

Putting together a statewide 1:1 program gave CTL the economies of scale needed to bring the same comprehensive 1:1 solution to a frontier school with 19 students that it brought to middle schools with over 1,700 students.

Implementing New Tech in the Classroom is no Easy Feat

The real heroes in the success of NR21 are the administrators and teachers who have been able to quickly adapt to new technology in the classroom and assist their students through the transition. The eagerness and readiness of these educators to continually increase and refine their Chromebook knowledge is a testament to their dedication to student success and digital equity.

According to Principal Dr. Toby Melver of Eleanor Lemaire Junior High School in Battle Mountain, “This is the first time in 20 years of education in Nevada where rural schools in Nevada were on an even playing field with larger schools and districts in the country. It gave us great hope to be able to put our best foot forward and be awarded this grant based on our merits and not the size of our district.”

The innovative Nevada Ready 21 program not only provides training and access to devices, it is also succeeding in increasing access to learning, especially for diverse students in rural communities. In one middle school, the Digital Learning Coach was able to show a teacher how to use Google Translate to provide access to her lessons for a Spanish-speaking student. This process was replicated twice in the next two weeks for simplified Chinese- and Farsi-speaking students.

One of the most challenging situations that schools face is helping all students feel included in the learning community. According to Daphne DeLeon, former Nevada Ready 21 Program Director, “The ability to differentiate learning on the same device for every student allows students in special populations to feel like they are a part of the student community. At one site visit, we heard that special education students loved getting on the bus with their Chromebook because they felt just like other students.”

CTL’s History with NR-21

CTL was awarded the Nevada Ready 21 program contract in 2016. Since then, over 19,000    5th-8th graders have a Chromebook to use both in school and at home during the school year. All 23 NR21 schools also have WiFi access covering every instructional space on campus. A full report on the results shows remarkable progress.

CTL is proud to be involved in helping create a 1:1 program that reaches every student in the state of Nevada, including even the remotest areas. This ensures that all students regardless of income or proximity to urban areas have access to necessary skills for the digital age.

Contact CTL today to find out more about 1:1 solutions and how they can help your classroom or school district succeed in creating digital equity for your students.

CTL NL61TX Chromebook: Unique, Rugged, & Ready for Classrooms says PC Magazine

CTL NL61TX Chromebook: Unique, Rugged, & Ready for Classrooms says PC Magazine

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

It’s a little like seeing our name in lights when PC Magazine writes up a review on one of our Chromebooks for education. This time, the NL61TX ultra-rugged touchscreen Chromebook took the stage.

Taking note on its durability, the PC Magazine team put the NL61TX to the test standing on the unit, dropping the Chromebook from lap height, and were even brave enough to purposefully pour liquid on the keyboard. Good thing we stand behind our claims to have some of the most rugged Chromebooks on the market!

Carrying Handles, X-Panels, and Rotating Cameras on a Chromebook? Oh my!

In the Chromebook review, a few features unique to the CTL NL61TX Education Chromebook stood out amongst other versions of Chromebooks. The team took note of the sly carrying handle on the hinge side of the unit. Adding to the “ready for students” design, the carrying handle is there to reduce the risk of accidents. The handle tucks neatly away to appear as part of the hinge design, but it can be easily pulled out to transport from class to class.

Also on this unit is the X-Panel which protects the unit’s corners in a fall and creates a whiteboard surface for drawing and taking notes, or allows kids to customize their own Chromebook.

Another feature, unique to the NL61TX, is the rotating camera. This camera is made to be rotated a full 180 degrees to capture images and videos of lectures and classmates, or when used pointing up to work with Labcam, turning the unit into a microscope for science.

A Chromebook with Great Battery Life to Stand Up to the Battery of Life

PC Magazine noted that their tests showed the unit lasting up to 12½ hours, which is 3½ hours longer than other competitors as discussed by the Chromebook review. That’s a full day of school, a bus ride, and even homework time without a charge to the unit!

Coupled with a long-lasting battery, the NL61TX Chromebook also is made to be ultra rugged with its x-panel which can hold up to 365 pounds of pressure to the unit and weight the unit in a fall to land on the panel and not the hardware in the bottom of the unit. The NL61TX also features a spill-proof keyboard which allows liquid spilt on the unit to drain away from its internal components.

NL61TX Chromebook, Reach out … Touchscreens!

In addition, the NL61TX Chromebook is equipped with a touchscreen that was noted to be great for scrolling and pinch zoom. It is responsive to touch and complements the 11.6-inch IPS screen, which delivers vivid colors and broad viewing angles.

The trackpad was noted to be smooth and responsive to a variety of finger movements. PC Magazine commented on the keyboard’s snappy feel. The NL61TX keyboard features a great feel, but it is still quite enough to not be distracting in a class full of students. Also, it’s worth mentioning again and again that the keyboard has a spill-proof design.  

Chromebook Powered Classrooms. It’s Really What Is on the Inside that Counts

The NL61TX demonstrated its ability to keep up with the rest of the class, with its Celeron CPU and 4gb of memory, by speed start-up times and handling multiple tabs open on a browser. The unit running on Chrome OS is great for working on G-Suite products like Google Docs whether on or offline and is eligible for a free 100gb of Google Drive space for 2 years.

Thanks, PC Magazine!

Are you curious to know more about the NL61TX Chromebook and its tailored for school use rugged design and affordable pricing? Check out the NL61TX product page for details and pricing!

Want to read the entire PC Magazine review on the unit? Here you can find the NL61TX Chromebook review.

Closing the Gap: A Safer Internet with Access for Every Student

Closing the Gap: A Safer Internet with Access for Every Student

Laura Helms

Laura Helms

Content Manager at CTL
Laura Helms holds a BA in Applied Linguistics and has been working in content and social media management for 4+ years. Native to the Pacific Northwest when she isn't in front of a computer screen you can find her teaching yoga or creating large scale mosaic murals.
Laura Helms

CTL Partners with Kajeet to Close the Digital Equity Gap

According to recent studies, 7 in 10 teachers assign homework that requires access to broadband. According to the Pew Research Center, over five million households with students do not have broadband internet service. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) study, “Taking the Pulse of the High School Student in America”, found that nearly 50 percent of all students said they have been unable to complete their homework because they didn’t have access to the Internet or a computer.

CTL recognized the need to include a digital equity solution in our implementation of 1:1 solutions.

CTL has partnered up with Kajeet to ensure that students are able to check out Kajeet SmartSpot devices overnight from their school library and use them with their CTL Chromebooks.

Kajeet is the industry leader for safe, mobile student Internet connectivity.

Kajeet’s mission is to close the Homework Gap in school districts across the country. Kajeet provides an affordable mobile broadband solution that connects low-income students to the resources needed to complete homework. The Kajeet SmartSpot solution, a portable Wifi hotspot combined with the innovative Sentinel cloud portal, enables administrators and teachers to provide CIPA-compliant, customizable filtered Internet access that keeps students safe and focused on school work and provides mobile Internet connectivity for education without the worry of data abuse. Kajeet’s products and services operate on three national 4G LTE networks.

“Mobile hotspots have made it possible for us to bring the world to ALL of our kids despite their resources. We are so fortunate to have this solution for our students in need,” said Susan Jensen, Principal of White Pine Middle School in Ely, Nevada.

“There are many, many students across America without the Internet at home. Together with CTL, we are thrilled to address this very critical issue, specifically in Nevada,” said Daniel Neal, CEO and founder of Kajeet. “As teachers increase their reliance on technology and Internet resources to achieve success in the classroom, it is essential for school administrators to ensure their students have not only the right tools to do homework but have those tools accessible when needed.”

“By partnering with Kajeet, CTL is helping to improve access for students who don’t have the resources to get their homework done at home,” said Erik Stromquist, President, CTL. “Combining our laptop devices with the Kajeet SmartSpot means that together we can level the playing field for all students, and close the gap in digital equity.”

The Game is More Fun with a Leveled Competition

All youth should have access to education, and with the changing landscape of technology’s role in education, CTL is proud to step up in assisting with 1:1 solutions and build partnerships that help close the gap in digital equity and provide equal access to technology for all students.

If you’d like to learn more about getting Kajeet for your CTL Chromebooks for education, contact us today!

The Ins and Outs of 1:1

The Ins and Outs of 1:1

Dani Kennis

Dani Kennis

Dani is a high school Special Education Social Studies teacher and Technology Coach in the New York suburbs. She is also a Level 2 Google Certified Trainer and co-founder of The Education Calendar, a crowdsourced map and calendar of education events worldwide. Her blended classroom incorporates the use of G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Education) as well as other Web 2.0 tools in order to prepare her students to be successful 21st century learners in a global community. She blogs about her work and teaching at DaniKennis.com and would love to connect on Twitter (@kennisdani).
Dani Kennis

After several warm, sunny summer weeks spent recharging and resting up, many teachers are eager for the fresh start of a new school year. As these teachers think about how and what their students need to learn, they must also think about any challenges, goals, and risks they are willing to take to maximize learning. Education is at a pivotal point in which we see the intersection of technology and learning meet with a more personalized approach to learning itself. The vehicle which moves this type of learning forward is called the 1:1 initiative.

The idea behind this initiative is that each student is provided with a device that allows them access to the Internet and a multitude of resources. But implementing 1:1 can be overwhelming, confusing, and even frustrating at times. As teachers prepare to jump headfirst into the upcoming school year, let me share some tips and tricks to help navigate the ins and outs of utilizing 1:1 to ensure a successful, productive year for both students and teachers.

1:1 → The Why

  • Schools no longer look the way they did 100 years ago or even 10 years ago.
    • Devices such as Chromebooks offer the opportunity for students to take ownership in their learning through a personalized and interactive approach. Providing students with these digital resources enables them to be collaborative creators of content rather than mere passive consumers of information.
    • Learning now is student-centered, personalized, and self-paced allowing for student voice and student choice. In my own classroom, ‘all of us are smarter than one of us’ has become the motto to foster a collaborative learning environment. It is one in which we work together to find and create learning experiences specifically catered to the individual needs of each student. I know as an educator, is is easy to fall into the ‘sage on the stage’ role. In fact, this was the biggest shift for me when I implemented 1:1.
  • Access & opportunity.
    • When we allow students to discover their own passions and interests, they become more excited about the learning process. As educators, we can guide our students on this self-paced journey by offering them ample opportunity for connectivity and collaboration. We have a responsibility to teach our students that the world is much bigger than just the four walls of the classroom or the confines of their street, neighborhood, or city. This journey begins with encouraging students to create content for an audience larger than just their teacher. Providing students with avenues to share their work with classmates, whether in their own classroom or in a classroom halfway around the world, empowers them to learn and share even more.
    • “We’ve always done it this way,” is an outdated motto and a habit that I strive to break in order to better reach my students and help them achieve their fullest potential. While it can be daunting to try something new, a 1:1 initiative lends itself to a sense of pride and excitement in the classroom. Students communicate with each more as they are excited about what they find and create on the Internet.

1:1 → The How

  • Establish procedures, routines, and expectations.
    • Before putting devices into the hands of students, it is imperative to first develop a plan. Will you number your Chromebooks and assign one to each student or will you have students use a different Chromebook each day? Where will you store your Chromebooks? How will students get their Chromebooks and when? Will students be on their devices the entire period or just for a portion of class time?
    • ‘Tech Free Tuesday’ is a designated day in my classroom where we do not use devices. Instead, the time is spent on direct instruction or students can work on more hands-on projects or written creative work. Giving students the space to work with their Chromebooks is as important as allowing them time to digest the information and learn to independently complete tasks without them.
    • Flexibility is key regarding the physical space. Depending on what the learning objective is, students will need to be able to work in many different settings:  independently, in small groups, and as a whole class. It is important to figure out which physical configuration of desks and furniture lends itself best to the specific learning outcomes. Classroom designs that are student-centered (a U-shape versus rows, for example) are a better match for a more fun and active learning environment.
  • Perhaps the most important part of learning any new skill is ‘sandbox time’. Allowing students the time to play, experiment, and discover what does or does not work is crucial to the implementation of a successful 1:1 rollout. In my classroom, I am going to try hosting a smackdown in the first few weeks of school in which the students will find and present a new tool or skill they discovered while using their Chromebook. This gives an incentive for the students who enjoy competing but also provides a safe space for those who like to work independently.
  • Getting started:  Provide students with expectations and skills related to your 1:1 initiative. This should be  a list of buildable skills that students need in their repertoire to be successful later in the year when engaged in deeper learning or involved with more complex projects. Additionally, teach students about digital citizenship. This may include information on what it means to establish a positive online presence or information on the copyrighted materials and the fair use rules. Common Sense Media, an independent nonprofit organization that helps children successfully navigate with media and technology, is an excellent place to start when teaching students about responsible use online.
  • Establish a classroom management plan that fits in with your learning goals and the needs of your students. This will look different from previous classroom management plans because expectations, behaviors, and consequences should fit with your new 1:1 initiative.

tips-for-tech-in-the-classroom

For a deeper dive into the world of 1:1, tune into my webinar on Wednesday August 2, at 1 p.m. PST!

My First ISTE Experience:

My First ISTE Experience:

Amy AL-Khalisi

Amy AL-Khalisi

Ed-Tech Project Manager at CTL
Amy AL-Khalisi, is a Ed Tech Project Manager for CTL’s Nevada 21 Contract. She operates as a liaison between Nevada school districts and CTL as part of the Nevada Ready 21 (NR21) program. CTL will provides Chromebooks, networking wireless infrastructure, a rich suite of apps and online tools and a robust package of service and support for the NR21 program. This program initially targets middle schools, while future phases will target high schools. With a background in both education and technology, Amy is an ideal fit to help Nevada middle schools make the transition to deploying Chromebooks in their classrooms.
Amy AL-Khalisi

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How to not become overwhelmed whether you are a veteran, vendor, or a first time attendee

I attended ISTE 2017 as an exhibitor with CTL. If you don’t know, CTL is a Portland, Oregon-based company that specializes in Chromebooks for education, Ed-tech, and 1:1 comprehensive solutions for school districts. Being a licensed special education teacher by trade, I knew at the ISTE conference in San Antonio, I was going to be like a kid in a candy store.

The road to getting ready for ISTE 2017

A year and half ago, I took a position as an EdTech Project Manager based out of Nevada for one of the largest statewide 1:1 solution programs, funded through state grants, called the Nevada Ready 21 Program. I realized I had a big job to do as there were school representatives attending ISTE from each of our 23 schools, including 9 schools from Clark County, the 5th largest school district in the nation. I needed to touch base with all of them, be prepared for two after-hour events for our regular customers around the world and for our Nevada Ready 21 participants for the second evening. You can only imagine the anxiety level I felt and the long days I put in before the conference.

Then, there I was… getting ready to conquer the 2017 ISTE conference in San Antonio. At least, that’s what I thought. I walked out into 95-degree weather with 50% humidity into a convention hall the size of a small town, one of the largest in the United States.20,396 attendees and exhibitors, 572 exhibiting companies, and presenters like Jab Abumrad from NPR’s Radiolab. As I got in line to get my vendor badge, I had no idea what I was in for. I kept telling myself,

“I am here to work at our booth to help promote our CTL Chromebooks, our service packages, and our comprehensive 1:1 solutions that incorporate curriculum, professional development, devices, specialized software apps, and our amazing service and maintenance plans.” And I reminded myself to just stay focused and not to get distracted.

However, as Robert Burns said, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

ISTE First Impressions

Walking into the conference hall, I immediately felt overwhelmed by the noise, the massive advertising signs, all the music, the numerous booth raffles, and the candy (yes, candy, and me trying to avoid sugar). There were people approaching me, trying to give out free swag, so I would stop to talk to them at their booths. All the while, I was trying to navigate, be polite, and find where I was trying to go. Yes, I knew the number of our booth, but not the area. But the massive size of the room and the competing booths seemed to distract me.

I made many rookie mistakes by not being prepared as a first time ISTE attendee. All in all, this place was full of amazing exhibiting companies, speakers, educational sessions, and tools; all of which were geared to help teachers, IT directors, and districts be informed about and select from the many curriculum apps, computer devices, and anything to aid teachers incorporate technology into their classrooms ….plus so much more! It was a wonderful experience, even despite being a little overwhelming as a first time participant!

Here are my tips & tricks of how to survive and not become overwhelmed at ISTE:

  • Get connected: Download the ISTE mobile app and use social media like Facebook, and Twitter to keep updated. The mobile app will be your command center, allowing you to look up the vendors to see where they are and stay up to date with the presenters and where they will be presenting. Plan at least 30 minutes ahead to get in line, and use this time to familiarize yourself with the app.
  • Identify your main goals: This will allow you to plan out your days to see presenters and vendors you want to visit and to learn more about them.
  • Take pictures: I recommend taking pictures of the key business cards you collect from the vendors that you are interested in. You will collect so many, but this tip will help you if you misplace or lose them. After all, pictures in the cloud won’t be forgotten.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: You may walk for miles, so bring your own water and snacks unless you want to overpay for food and water.
  • Organize and plan: Go through your swag, the information you collect, and re-organize it at night to be better prepared to plan out your next day. Then start all over again.

Remember, you are the one who will take away what you need. The more you apply yourself to the experience, participate in the learning sessions, go to keynote speakers, and are prepared; the more you will get out of it. Wear your patience hat and your tennis shoes, and most of all, have fun exploring and learning!