Thursday, June 6, 2013
Editor's note: Our guest blogger today is Lisa DeLapo, Director of Technology at St. Joseph School, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.
Learning shouldn’t be limited to pen and paper, nor the computer lab. Rather than taking tests or filling out worksheets, the 270 students at St. Joseph’s spend most of their time creating projects using digital tools that show off their knowledge. Whether they’re telling stories of famous heroes using Google Sites, making group study guides with Google Forms, or listening to voice comments on their science fair projects in Google Docs, our students learn more from creating than they ever could from only consuming information.
My job as Director of Technology at St. Joseph’s is to make sure our educational tools are available everywhere. We have found Chromebooks to be the perfect tools – they’re portable and easy to use, have a keyboard and a large screen, and are secure. We’re piloting Chromebooks with several teachers now, and soon our entire faculty and staff will use them exclusively. We will also supply carts for the Chromebooks so students in different classrooms can share computers as freely as they swap lunches.
Because our teachers already use the Chrome browser and work largely in Google Apps, moving to Chromebooks has been easy. In addition to Google Apps, we also use Pearson PowerSchool to track grades, test scores and attendance, along with giving us a collaboration platform for parents. Accessing PowerSchool is extremely important but because it uses an older Java technology that is not supported in Chrome, I had to find a way to access it securely and easily from the Chromebook. I found out about the Chrome RDP app by Fusion Labs; it was exactly what we needed.
Chrome RDP lets users connect to any Windows desktop or server directly from within the Chrome browser. Since it uses Microsoft’s native Remote Desktop Protocol, no additional configuration or setup is needed after you install the app. It gives us secure access to PowerSchool and other legacy applications, and it’s straightforward for teachers to use. They download the Chrome RDP app from the Chrome Web Store, open up the app, and enter their login information for secure access to PowerSchool through the school’s firewall.
The introduction of Chromebooks to St. Joseph's has broadened what our teachers and students are able to achieve in the classroom. Chromebooks have helped everyone at St. Joseph’s enjoy the benefits of technology without expensive, complex maintenance. And now our students will have a new outlet for learning that helps familiarize them with technology and what we see as the future of learning.