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A Port Byron Central School District student removes the plastic wrap from his brand new Chromebook on Sept. 7.

District expands technology initiative with Chromebooks

Port Byron Central School District is taking another step in providing students with equal access to technology.

This year, Dana L. West Junior/Senior High School students will each be issued a Chromebook device they can use during school and at home to complete academic work, such as assignments, research and collaborative projects. The initiative is part of the district’s ongoing plan to embed technology into education and bridge the digital divide, or the gap that separates those who have technology access from those who do not.

"Technology plays a major role in how we live, work and communicate," Port Byron CSD Superintendent Neil O’Brien said. "Knowing that digital literacy is highly correlated to educational achievement, it’s imperative that we not only teach students how to navigate online content, but provide them with a way to do so."

What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is visibly similar to a laptop, but instead of the traditional Windows or Mac operating systems it runs Google’s Chrome Operating System (OS), which is essentially the Chrome browser in operating system form. Its sleek design makes it one of the most lightweight devices on the market today.

Chromebooks centralize around a user’s Google account and most of its apps, including the G Suite for Education (formerly called Google Apps for Education) exist in “the cloud.” Cloud-computing means resources are delivered through the Internet instead of local servers and hard drives, providing web-connected users access to their stored information anytime, anywhere. The device also works in "offline mode" so users can still complete some tasks sans Internet access.

For several years, Port Bryon students have been using Google's fleet of apps in school computer labs and on personal devices. Many of the apps are interactive and designed to promote collaboration between peers and educators.

During the recent summer break, many Port Byron educators to prepare for the district’s Chromebook initiative participated in training sessions where they learned more about G Suite for Education and how to maximize its classroom potential.

"The Chromebooks will allow for more interactive and engaged learning," Port Byron English teacher Jason Bastian said. “I am looking forward to making the classroom progressively more paperless, too."

A fully-charged Chromebook will last about 8-12 hours, but free charging stations are now available on campus for when batteries do run low.

A plan for equal access
In 2015, Port Byron CSD launched the 1:1 (one device per one student) technology initiative at the elementary level with iPads. The program, which provides to all third through sixth-grade students a device they can bring to and from school, continues today.

"The iPad initiative has been very successful and in many ways made us confident in taking the next step with Chromebooks," said Port Byron Technology Director Mr. Wenwei Hsu. "The devices help support curriculum and instruction and extend learning to virtually anywhere."

The district's younger learners - students in pre-kindergarten through second grade - have access to iPads, too. About a dozen of the handheld devices are available in each classroom for students’ daily use.

"Providing students with the tools they need is critical to their success," Mr. O’Brien said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they embrace and utilize the technology to their advantage."

Related News:
Port Byron students allowed to take Chromebooks home (News Channel 9/WSYR)


This is an image of a student receiving a Chromebook

Port Byron CSD Director of Technology Wenwei Hsu distributes Chromebooks to Dana L. West Junior/Senior High School students on Sept. 7.


This is an image of students using Chromebooks

Dana L. West Junior/Senior High School students test-drive their new Chromebooks on Sept. 7.


This is an image of a student typing on a Chromebook

Students in grades 7-12 will have the opportunity to bring their Chromebooks to and from school.


This is an image of a mobile device charging station

A new charging station designed to give students'  mobile devices a boost stands in the library. Four charging stations will soon be centrally located throughout the district.