Library Features New Chromebits Lab

This school year Dimond got new internet-only computers in the library computer lab.

The technology coordinator, Charles McCubrey said, “They are called Chromebits… it’s a desktop version of a Chromebook, so rather than having a smaller screen and being portable, it’s got the larger screen, full size keyboard and a mouse.”

Suzanne Metcalfe, Dimond’s librarian, said, “It is a monitor that does Chrome, period. They can do anything a Chromebook can do.”

About the reasons for getting new computers, McCubrey said, “The primary thing is, one, they don’t run all the same Mac applications, but the biggest thing is cost.

“An iMac right now I think costs, the lowest end one, $1,149, and these [Chromebits] are $200.”

The computers still have all the functions needed in school.

McCubrey said, “We’ve really surveyed a lot of people about what students are using the computers for, and hardly anything is used beyond Google Docs and searching the web, and since we can do both of those with a Chromebit, we didn’t feel like we lost a lot of functionality, with this type of device.”

The school is moving away from applications that the iMacs had, and is following students by moving toward online options.

McCubrey said, “Microsoft Word used to be pretty inexpensive, but Word had to run on each individual computer, rather than a cloud-based solution like Google Docs.

“I do think there’s so many things are going online, you can [even] edit videos on there now, all online, therefore we don’t need all the computing power; each student doesn’t need their computing power, they just need something to get online and then it’s all done on there.”

About students’ use of the computers, Metcalfe said, “Kids only have to sign in once, and they’re right in ASD Google,” rather than needing to login multiple times.

Metcalfe also said, “Chrome has been the more stable internet browser,” from what she has experienced while working with classes in the library computer lab.

McCubrey said, “I think that they’re easier partly because one of the issues we’ve had with our old iMacs is that some of them are now 10 years old, that’s a long time and the age is really starting to show, so the login times are pushing three, to five, to six minutes.

“These are so much faster, so as far as these, [students] were logging into an iMac and opening up Safari or Chrome anyway, now they’re just logging onto a Chromebit and they’re in there in about eight to 12 seconds and off and running.

“So I think [for] students it’s been really easy because they’re used to that type of work flow, and these just make it that much simpler.”

Still, there are issues to be worked out, including printing, which is an important function for students.

McCubrey said, “We’re working on printing right now.

“It’s a whole new way of doing it. Management has become a little bit tougher because they’re a newer product that we’ve got in our district.

“All of those things that we need in our environment are kind of new, so we’re definitely learning as we go and improving the experience so that its more seamless for students.”

About the possibility of moving toward more internet and cloud-based options in the future, McCubrey said, “That’s a tough one. There are certain areas, you know our engineering program, they’ve got specific software that only runs on a Windows, full computer.”

For general student use, however, McCubrey said, “I can see a majority of our student-based computers going to these internet devices, like a Chrome device.

“And the reason that Chrome is so good for a school is that it automatically updates, its very secure, and they’re quick, they’re fast to start up.

“They’re really good as far as, again, getting online and what you need to do online, they are really good for that.”