Tech Update 2016

Tech Update 2016

AHA Student Technology is Moving to the Cloud!  

We are excited to announce an update to our 1:1 student technology program.

Key objectives:

  • Leverage world-class hardware, software and services
  • Standardize and simplify hardware
  • Reduce device dependence
  • Focus on school infrastructure

Google Logo

Key components of this transition to emerging technology are already in place.
AHA’s campus is equipped with recently increased bandwidth and students are using Google Apps for Education as their main software suite.  When students begin the 2016-2017 school year, they will be issued a school-owned Google Chromebook, which will complete this exciting transition to powerful, available and efficient technology. Student work will be available for students anytime, anywhere, through their Chromebook or any other device that uses a Chrome browser, all synced automatically.

Chrome Logo

Exciting Improvements 
Because it leverages the power of the Google Apps for Education suite and other cloud software and services, this updated device will offer our students quicker startup times, simplified hardware fixes, and a lighter body. All their work will auto-save, even when offline, and when they are connected to the internet once again, it will automatically synchronize to their Google Account in the cloud, making that same work accessible from any device with Chrome.  The Chromebook will be equipped with some of the same hardware as the current laptops: a full keyboard, microphone, webcam and USB ports. 

Student Tech Update 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for taking the time to read about our Technology Update.  Many of the questions that you may have about this transition will be answered here.  If not, please email helpdesk@ahastars.org, and we’ll address your question and add it to this FAQ for others to learn as well.

Technology changes, and AHA will change, as new developments in technology can meet the needs of our students and the curriculum.

Click on any of the questions below to go straight to the answer:

1. What is a Chromebook?
2. What will happen to the current laptop my student is using?
3. Will this affect what my student is learning at AHA?
4. Is a Chromebook different from the current student laptop?
5. Chromebook is better for AHA.  Why?
6. What does the yearly technology fee pay for?
7. The Top 10 reasons why students can be excited about this change in technology!
8. How is an iPad different from a Chromebook?
9. Why is AHA choosing to go from the current HP laptops to Chromebooks?
10. I’ve heard Chromebooks are less expensive than laptops. If that’s true, then what does the tech fee pay for?
11. Will students take the Chromebook with them when they graduate?
12. Why is AHA choosing to switch to the Chrome Operating System from Windows?
13. Will there be warranty and accidental damage protection on the Chromebook?
14. When will my student be issued the Chromebook?
15. How did AHA make this decision?
16. Will my student be able to load Photoshop or other specialized applications on the Chromebook?
17. If Chromebooks use the cloud, can you use them offline?
18. Can I start a new google doc when I’m offline?
19. Will students be able to access notes that teachers post on Moodle via Smart Notebook on a Chromebook?
20. Does it cost money to download apps from the chrome web store?
21. My student used a Chromebook in middle school. How will this experience be different? 

1. What is a Chromebook?   
First introduced by Google in 2011, a Chromebook uses the Chrome Operating system and is a streamlined, cloud-centric, lightweight computing device.  AHA will select an education and business-class model that is durable, high performing and allows students to continue accessing high quality AHA curriculum and content.

2. What will happen to the current laptop my student is using?  
Refer to the notice included with registration materials for the specific options by graduating class. The same information is also available below.

 

3. Will this affect what my student is learning at AHA?
Technology will not change the student learner outcomes or the curriculum at AHA.  One of the reasons that AHA has not changed its device, the laptop, until now is because before this time, a different device could not help us deliver the curriculum the way the laptop did.  An iPad could not, and still cannot.  But now, with Google for Education and a variety of new apps, the chromebook can.  And, over the laptop, the chromebook offers many other advantages. See The Top 10 reasons why students can be excited about this change in technology!

Academy of Holy Angels guarantees the delivery of specific content and course objectives, in other words, what students will know and what they will be able to do.  Technology assists us in the delivery of that curriculum.  We guarantee that your student will receive the same rigorous, college prep experience with a Chromebook that they had with a laptop.  

4. Is a Chromebook different from the current student laptop?
Physically, a Chromebook looks like a laptop.  The Chromebook AHA will purchase will have a full size keyboard, a webcam, a microphone, a headphone jack and USB ports- and may have an SD card reader. The sizes vary, and AHA will purchase the largest screen that has all the above features.  The Chromebook that we will purchase will look similar to the laptop your student is currently using. Watch the video below for more information or click here if it is not displaying properly in your browser.

5. Chromebook is better for AHA.  Why?
Because the Chromebook uses the cloud for storage and Google Apps for Education as the main software suite, the actual hardware itself does not need to have as much computing power and storage space as the current laptops.  This is a tremendous advantage because it allows AHA to transfer funding from student devices to shared technological infrastructure.  See Google’s answer.

6. What does the yearly technology fee pay for?
AHA uses the yearly technology fee to pay for all academic software, online textbooks, Vernier Science lab equipment, internet service, networking hardware (such as wireless systems) and software, basic accidental damage protection, IT infrastructure, and helpdesk support, as well as the new Chromebooks.

7. The Top 10 reasons why students can be excited about this change in technology!

10. Every AHA student will get a brand new Chromebook next year.

9. There are no known viruses for the Chrome Operating system. See details about the security.

8. The new device is lightweight

7. It boots really fast. See example.

6. All AHA students will have the same device.

5. It acts more like a mobile device than a PC - for example, it has an app store. Try it.

4. You can still access your lab data and notes from home. You can even write papers without internet access.  Google docs, sheets, slides, gmail and thousands of other webstore apps all have an offline mode so you don’t always need internet access to use your Chromebook.  When you get internet access again, it just seamlessly syncs automatically.  See all the things that you can do with a Chromebook offline.

3. The Chromebook that AHA chooses will be business class, high powered and have a webcam, full keyboard and USB ports.

2. All the work you do on the Chromebook will be available anytime, anywhere through your Google login.

1.  The work you do in Google Drive auto-saves every few seconds and automatically backs itself up to the cloud.

8. How is an iPad different from a Chromebook?
Physically, a Chromebook looks like a laptop.  Chromebooks have a full size keyboard, a webcam, a microphone, a headphone jack and USB ports. Some Chromebooks have a SD card reader. Some have a touch screen. The sizes vary. The one we will purchase will look similar to the laptop your student is currently using.

An iPad essentially helps us consume information, not create it.  An iPad does not have a full keyboard, does not have a full screen, or a USB port.  It would be difficult for AHA students to write full papers or do lab experiments using an iPad.  It cannot access the software and special tools used in AHA classes.  

9. Why is AHA choosing to go from the current HP laptops to Chromebooks?
A Chromebook and the system behind it is safer, more reliable. A Chromebook meets the needs of our current curriculum but also can enhance student learning. They will spend more time using the device, instead of learning how to use the device. Collaboration, a key 21st Century skill, is catalyzed by the everyday use of Google Apps for Education. The additional features, like automatic synchronization, ease of collaboration and security make this a smart switch.

Whatmore, the warranty from HP, that had been available to AHA on its laptops has changed significantly.  We no longer can guarantee the repairs and replacements that we had been able to in the past.  This means that any damage over the value of the device is not covered by the warranty and requires AHA to pay the cost of repairs, parts, or replacement. Conversely, the Chromebook is durable, has a warranty, and if or when needed, the device can be repaired or replaced at a better cost to families or AHA for repair and parts.

10. I’ve heard Chromebooks are less expensive than laptops. If that’s true, then what does the tech fee pay for?
In past years, the AHA Technology Program total program cost was about $650-700 per student per year for the device, support, warranty, and infrastructure. The Tech fee was $500 a year, and we made up the remainder of the costs with the operating budget.  With the transition to the cloud and Chromebook, the total cost will drop to approximately $500 per student. AHA is asking families to pay $450 in Tech fees for the 2016-17 school year.  This tech fee includes the device and on-site software & hardware support. It also includes guaranteed, immediate availability of a loaner should damage occur, and all infrastructure.  AHA ensures that all provided devices will have the best possible warranty and accidental damage protection available.  See the question What does the yearly technology fee pay for?

11. Will students take the Chromebook with them when they graduate?
Under our current plan, hardware will be refreshed every three years.  That means students will have a new device every three years, not necessarily in conjunction with the year of his/her graduation.  We will work out the details of decommissioning the old devices as we get new ones.  Those plans will be shared in the year preceding the last year with the Chromebook.

12. Why is AHA choosing to switch to the Chrome Operating System from Windows?

  • Familiarity: Students and teachers, right now, are using the Chrome browser as their main way to access to the Internet. They are also using Google Apps for Education. These two components will make this transition smooth.  The Chromebook is easy to use because many students are already familiar with the Chrome browser, around which the operating system is built.

  • Intuition: Chromebooks act like a mobile device using an app store, the Chrome Web Store, files primarily in the cloud, and having quick boot times.

  • Stability: Taking advantage of the world class software and infrastructure provided by Google Apps for Education, moving to Chrome ensures a stable, seamless experience across any platform.

  • Simplicity: Students will spend less time dealing with technical hurdles and more time on classwork.

  • Security: There are no known viruses for the Chrome Operating System. One of the most common reasons AHA students visit the helpdesk now is for viruses. See details about the security.

  • Synchronization & Backup: Since documents and other files are automatically synchronized with the cloud, backup is built in!

  • Collaboration: A 21st century learning skill, collaboration is instantaneous and documents are always ready to be shared at the click of a button, and users can work together in the same room or remotely -- in different cities, states or even different countries.

  • Standardization: Having one device, the same device, in grades 9-12 is not to be underestimated.  One device, a Chromebook, refreshed every three years for all students, provide simplicity of instruction by teachers, use by students, and repair by the Helpdesk.  

13. Will there be warranty and accidental damage protection on the Chromebook?
Yes, damage protection will cover all parts of the Chromebook.  For excessive or repeated damage, AHA will charge a $25 fee for two or more incidents. See details in the Technology Handbook.

14. When will my student be issued the Chromebook?
AHA will issue the Chromebooks to all students at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Students will receive an orientation to the new hardware and training through their homeroom. Because the students are already familiar with Google Apps for Education and the Chrome browser, we expect this transition to be smooth.

15. How did AHA make this decision?
In the spring of 2015, the AHA Technology Committee began identifying goals for an update to the student Technology program. After much planning and research to ensure the platform would meet needs of curriculum and the school goals, the Committee voted in favor of a student technology update that focused on cloud computing. Part of this update included shifting the student device to a Chromebook. AHA has been meeting with the Parent Association, associated committees of the Board, and others to gather feedback and provide information.  Students also tested various models of Chromebooks to give us feedback and help us select the right model for AHA.

16. Will my student be able to load Photoshop or other specialized applications on the Chromebook?
Currently, there is no Chrome web app for Adobe Photoshop that is available to the public. Adobe is working on a solution that AHA has been testing. Until an Adobe solution is provided, AHA will provide Windows laptops in the classroom and for limited loan. Additionally, there are Chrome web apps such as Pixler Editor that is free and available to anyone.  Try it.  It works similarly to Photoshop, can open and save as Photoshop files (.psd) and is a way for students to continue working on their Computer Art homework from home.  Because students are using Google Apps for Education, all their work saved on the Chromebook will be synced with their login and available immediately and seamlessly from any device they log in to. Other specialized applications such as CAD software will also be made available via classroom laptop sets. For any other special software or requirements your student might have, AHA is flexible and willing to assist as necessary please contact the Helpdesk  for further information.

17. If Chromebooks use the cloud, can you use them offline?
Yes, Chromebooks do have a hard drive and google docs, sheets, slides that are started on the Chromebook are synced with the hard drive of the Chromebook as well as the Google account in the cloud. If a student starts a doc on the Chromebook or even opens one that he started somewhere else (on another computer or on a phone) then it will be synced to the Chromebook for offline use.  See all the things you can do with a Chromebook offline.

18. Can I start a new google doc when I’m offline?
Absolutely! And it’s the same process on a Chromebook as when you’re online. The only difference is that it will only save to the Chromebook. But as soon as you’re back online, it’ll sync right back up and you don’t have to do anything.

19. Will students be able to access notes that teachers post on Moodle via Smart Notebook on a Chromebook?
Yes, Smart Express Viewer is a web-based software that allows anyone to open a Smart Notebook file. They can even interact with it in a web browser. Try it.

20. Does it cost money to download apps from the chrome web store?
The chrome web store has tens of thousands of free apps available. Simply go there, click and add it to your profile. Now you can access them from anywhere you can log in to Chrome.  App developers can offer apps for sale through the chrome web store, but the majority of the apps appear to be free. Try it.

21. My student used a Chromebook in middle school. How will this experience be different? 
Chromebooks were first introduced in 2011.  Since then, much has changed. The industry has widely embraced the Chrome platform, and has made many hardware and software improvements.  From the business world to higher education and federal government, the google platform and chrome is being adopted at a rapid pace.  While we don’t know what specific hardware your student may have used in middle school or the state of the infrastructure at the specific school, we feel confident that AHA’s continuing infrastructure improvements, the choice of a business class Chromebook and existing high quality curriculum will ensure an outstanding experience for your family.

 

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