New Generation Chromebooks, New Possibilities in Education

This week at Bett, one of the world’s leading education technology conferences, Google demoed two new Chromebook models with next generation features designed to address the needs of schools using G Suite for Education which now have more than 70 million active users!

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 offer users the versatility of having a desktop and an Android tablet with these new unique features:

  • Stylus Capability: Both devices come with an intelligent, low-cost pen resembling a #2 pencil for easier note-taking and drawing.
  • World-Facing Camera: A special camera placed on the keyboard side so when the Chromebook is flipped, it holds just like a tablet and students can now take photos from all directions.
  • USB-C charging: All 2017 Chromebook models going forward will have standard super-fast USB-C charging.
  • Android apps: In the coming weeks, administrators will be able to create a library of approved Android apps and install them on select managed Chromebook devices. Here’s the current list of Chromebook models that can support Android apps.


With Android apps now available on Chromebooks plus the introduction of stylus pens on newer models, this opens up new possibilities on how students and educators use their devices.

Searchable Handwritten Notes

New generation Chromebooks uses an input prediction model built upon Google’s machine learning technology, which makes writing on these devices extremely responsive. Combine it with apps with Optical Character Recognition capabilities such as Google Keep, going through your notes is as easy as doing a Google search.

Classroom web version or Android app in one device!

Google Classroom works on all Chromebook devices so students and educators can collaborate and stay organized. This setup works so well when dealing with documents and multimedia content.

With the help of a stylus-enabled device and the Classroom Android app, students can solve math equations by hand or sketch diagrams and other visuals for a project directly in the Classroom app.

Adobe Creative Cloud apps


To provide further creative options for students and get the most of the stylus and world-facing camera, creative Android apps from Adobe optimized for Chromebooks will be available for free download.

As Chromebooks continue to become the device of choice for education, expect to have an even wider variety of applications and Chrome OS devices in the future including detachables and tablets.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 and the Asus Chromebook C213 are scheduled to be released late spring. You can check out new Chromebooks at http://google.com/edu/chromebook.
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Set Tasks for Different Groups

Differentiation no longer requires a completely different Classroom. When setting (or editing) an assignment, you now have the option to choose the students it will be sent to. Check out the video below from Dean Stokes to see it in action.

 
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Considering switching to a Chromebook? Here’s what these experts have to say...


For those who are planning to get a Chromebook this year, major media outlets Computerworld and Notebooks.com both recently published their review on the Acer Chromebook R13. We are sharing them below to help you decide on which device to get.

Computerworld’s article, Review: Acer Chromebook R13 - a Chromebook with class, is mostly positive, focusing on the design, support for Android apps, and overall usability. The review starts by laying out how the R13 is a “slightly larger, slightly improved version of the R11.”

The brand new R13 “has a much more solid feel than most Chromebooks,” and it’s good to hear that they “got the impression that this one will last for the long haul.” Computerworld also commented on the keyboard, which they were impressed with, though it was mentioned that the touchpad isn’t as large as those found on some high-end laptops.
They also picked up on the excellent new development that the R13 is “one of the few Chromebooks currently capable of running Android apps.” As with all of Acer’s Chromebooks, the battery is excellent, with the R13’s good for up to 12 hours. As Computerworld mentioned, “it certainly lasted over a day's worth of use with power to spare.”

If you’re attending BETT 2017, definitely get along to the Acer stand to check out the new Chromebook R13. It’s flippable, has a touchscreen, runs Android apps and boasts a decent 4GB of RAM to keep on top of all those tabs you have open! You can check out the full review from Computerworld here, or if you’d like a second opinion, check out this review from Notebook.com who found the R13 to be the ‘Best Overall Chromebook.’

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If we forget to look out of the window

by +John Mikton

A window out
Every year has its moments, and 2016 was no exception. Various significant shifts occurred, including changes in the political landscape in the United States, United Kingdom, and Turkey. And the horrors of war, civil strife, terrorism and an underlying global tension have been constantly fed into our digital lives from the comfort of our screens.

As we consume the aggregated algorithmic social network feeds, each customized to ensure we get what we want to digest, we are choreographed into a more divisive world.

Information is power. This year, the pollsters, news agencies, and pundits got caught out with two big votes, and so many predictions seemed off.

Our landscape of information has entered a level of Orwellian curation, and what is news, fact, or reality seems dictated by emotion and perspectives constructed from our own curated news feeds. They are rarely factual. "Post Truth" - Oxford English Dictionary Names 'Post-Truth' Word of the Year by Jon Blistein is the word that defines these moments and a shift to a new narrative.

For many of us, this Orwellian curation has us struggling to distinguish fact from fiction. The level of sophistication of not only the algorithms but how these are manipulated to shift thinking is the new power. In schools, we are being told by various studies that our students capacity for media and information literacy is weak. (Students Have 'Dismaying' Inability To Tell Fake News From Real, Study Finds by Camila Domonoske ). When you consider we as adults struggle with this landscape, it is no surprise that our students struggle too.

In a world of algorithms where the sophisticated digital curation of social media, news, blogs, and video feeds can be manipulated to match an individual’s perspective, the challenges we face as educators are immense. This manipulation, shared in this sobering article " Google, democracy and the truth about internet search by Carole Cadwalladr", highlights the complexity of being truly media literate. The prevalence of third party curation in social media feeds during elections highlighted in this article "Macedonia’s fake news industry sets sights on Europe by: Andrew Byrne" emphasis the challenges we all face in understanding what is "real" news.

To be complacent is short-sighted in a school setting. There is a tendency with school professional development to not explicitly address the digital reality that engulfs our lives as an essential part of our professional learning. Information and Media literacy are what frame our own democratic values: choice, perspective, empathy, resilience, and critical thinking. If we as educators are going to assign students critical thinking tasks and ask them to engage with media and information while juggling screen time in a complex digital landscape, we cannot be passive bystanders.

As school leaders, we need to re-frame our engagement with the role of digital life in professional development. Together, we need to understand the complexity and impact of algorithmic information flows on our devices.

We also need dedicated spaces for this professional learning. We must learn how to mentor information flows, authenticate media, source perspectives, and understand the pedagogic impact of a curated news. We must approach this with patience and empathy, and allow everyone to build an understanding of the digital flows we live by, tapping into the talent of our librarians and digital coaches as guides. We must take advantage of the frameworks available to us (e.g: #1 or #2) and use them as a point of reference for a pedagogic consensus on how to mentor our school community.

The paradigm shift asks us to look at Digital Intelligence as a core intelligence. As defined by http://www.projectdq.org: "- the sum of social, emotional, and cognitive abilities essential to digital life." and shared out in the World Economic Forum article: "8 digital life skills all children need – and a plan for teaching them".

Digital Intelligence needs to be woven into the curriculum. We do this on a daily basis with all other aspects of the curriculum. Let us do it with Digital Intelligence. Re-structure the focus and content to explicitly encompass screen-time management, privacy management, cyber security management, digital footprints, and digital identity; use these to make authentic connections based on our experiences. Then, reflect on our digital habits, likes, tensions, questions and understandings to create activities to share. In this process, we should hope to find comfort in being honest with our own vulnerabilities. We can then use this life-learning to support our students' understanding of digital intelligence.

Being explicit about implementing Digital Intelligence in faculty professional learning ensures this is an essential part of our educators professional growth. Working together, as adults learners, we need to harness the complexity of the choreographed digital world. By ensuring this is in our professional learning landscape, we are then empowered to share our digital intelligence to students. It is the only way to counter an Orwellian curation of information in a "post truth" world.



Beyond Digital and this blog post by John Mikton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Based on a work at beyonddigital.org.
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