How to manage Chromebooks at School: training students to acquire digital skills adapted to tomorrow’s professional world
Marc Bonnin, a technology teacher at Saint Jacques de Compostelle secondary school in Poitiers, France, explains why he has chosen to manage the Acer Chromebooks and Google applications for his teaching and training classes.
Asnières, June 2023 – Marc Bonnin is a teacher at the Saint Jacques de Compostelle school in Poitiers, France. He teaches technology to middle school students. In addition to his teaching job, he is a part-time trainer at the school’s training centre for nursery assistants and care assistants. At the same time, he is the Google Administrator for his school and manages approximately 1,500 accounts.
Marc Bonnin has been teaching for over 30 years, and for 16 years was the IT Manager at College La Chaume La Salle in Vouillé, France. His in-depth knowledge of new technologies and IT gives him a hands-on experience of how hardware and software can be used in the classroom, as well as the educational benefits to be gained by students, teachers and interns.
Marc Bonnin chooses the Acer Chromebook and Google applications.
Mr. Bonnin was a Mac and then a PC user under Windows environment. He switched his working environment when he started using Google Workspace Education and realized that he could do all his teaching work from a Chromebook. He bought his first Acer Chromebook in 2015 to help write his lectures and make it easier to post them online, using Google’s tools. At home, he uses a 14-inch Acer Chromebook (CB5-312T) and for going to school, he takes a second, smaller 11-inch Acer Chromebook (CB R751-TN), which he considers to be more portable and resistant. These are his daily work tools. Mr. Bonnin has chosen convertible and touch formats with a stylus because he finds them practical to use, particularly for note-taking.
“I took a look at all the tools I was using and when I got my hands on the Chromebook I said to myself that I should switch over because I could just use one solution. I’m very pleased with this solution because every day I can see the benefits of these tools and the convenience of sharing content across multiple devices. Everything becomes simpler and easier” said M. Bonnin.
The benefits of this solution is not limited to hardware and applications. It also provides IT departments the ability to manage the entire network. In Marc Bonnin’s case, it means he can easily manage 1,500 accounts remotely from a single Chromebook, controlling the entire school’s network from the Google Admin console.
Mr. Bonnin also believes that the Chromebook is a durable and stable solution. “What’s great about the Acer Chromebooks is that they can last a long time with automatic updates. I haven’t noticed any latency or technological obsolescence; they perform just like they did on the first day. This means we can extend the lifespan of our equipment, which is better for the environment and our bottom line” he added.
On his Acer Chromebooks, Mr Bonnin most often uses applications from the Google Workspace suite: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Sites, as well as Lego EV3 Classroom for programming LEGO robots, and Sketchup for Schools for 3D drawing.
All his courses are organized in Google Drive and published in Google Sites. He illustrates his lessons with educational content from Lumni.com, videos from the Arte TV channel and other sites he finds relevant. He shares them easily on the Google Site he created which he has been adding to and updating for several years now.
Chromebook, the right solution for teachers and training classes
Mr. Bonnin is convinced that the computer is an essential element in learning, teaching and training today. He has noticed that young children find it much easier to pick up and use. “They are born with the technology in their hands and their minds adapt remarkably well to it.” He adds. “For adults who are not used to working with digital technology in their daily lives, such as teachers or people in training courses, the Chrome environment is perfect: simple, easy and intuitive.” And for those who are technology-averse and think it is an inaccessible world, Mr Bonnin notes that “if you take the time to explain how it works, the Chrome suite makes it easy to adapt.”
For students with disabilities, Mr Bonnin is convinced that the Chromebook is a solution that is adapted to their needs. Google’s philosophy is to keep the same logic from one generation to the next, which is a major advantage and saves time when it comes to training.
When you enter the world of Chromebook, the user interface is identical in all the applications, which makes it easier to learn and to use the entire suite of products. This way all that is left to do is concentrate on the educational and creative processes, which is the very essence of teaching. – Marc Bonnin
Today it’s also about training people in adopting good digital practices, having the right reflexes, while remaining vigilant. “The teacher is no longer the one who holds all the knowledge. Students are inundated with information, whether on platforms or social networks. No matter what subject I’m teaching, I train students on how to carry out research, find information and cross-reference sources. I teach them to have rigour when using IT tools, manipulating data and to adopt good practices. Questionable information found on social networks can take on a life of its own and become a reality for some people, which is why it’s vital to talk about it.» details M. Bonnin.
The Chromebook is easy to manage and very powerful for daily tasks. The ChromeOS environment allows to find all documents on any device with just one password. Mr Bonnin’s school has chosen to keep all the computers secured at school, but students can use their Google Edu Chrome account to find at home all their content on their various devices, such as smartphones, tablets or computers.
As an introduction, Mr Bonnin always starts by talking about the importance of data security, whether to his secondary school pupils or during adult education training courses. He raises awareness of the risk of losing documents and of the dangers that can arise from certain vulnerable devices such as USB sticks or external hard drives. With a Chromebook and a Google Chrome account, security is reinforced.
Each student has their own Google Edu user code and password as soon as they enter the school. “It’s very easy to reset accounts if they lose their password. But it’s quite rare. I also explain to them how to reconnect at home so that they can continue with their project,” he adds.
As part of his teaching, Mr Bonnin runs the small business project, which is managed by the French association ” Entrepreneurship for Learning “. The aim of this project is to simulate the creation of a company by putting together its organization, services and products. For example, 8th graders have to identify the departments and their roles (CEO, production worker, financial director, HR director, etc.). To facilitate collaboration between students, they use Google tools. In the Drive, Mr. Bonnin has created a shared space organized by department, just as a company would do, in order to integrate the different content and creations of the students. This encourages collaboration between students and gives a global view of the progress of the business creation. A discussion space has also been created in Gmail to keep the project moving forward, even outside school hours.
He trains teachers who wish to do so on the same tools: managing their email account, their drive, using the word processor spreadsheet, slide presentation, how to convert their Word documents into Google docs, for example. “At the request of a vocational baccalaureate colleague, I provided training on using Google site so that her students could present a portfolio of works (a progression of a certain number of projects) to a panel of judges. This enabled them to learn how to manage documents and present them in the form of a website,” he adds.
As part of the training centre, Mr Bonnin teaches nursery assistants and care assistants aged 19 to 50. The objective is to teach them certain digital concepts using the tools in the Google Workspace suite. The Chrome environment is ideal for quickly and easily learning how to manage emails and documents in Drive, how to export to PDF and store files, how to write and edit letters, and how to insert photos into a Google Docs document to create a resume, for example.
The right training solution for tomorrow’s tools
According to Marc Bonnin, teaching middle and high school students about the digital world, managing a Chromebook and the Chrome environment, all contribute to preparing them to use tomorrow’s tools. Students will need to use these tools later in their working lives, and this is already helping them to adapt to their future working lives.
The Chromebook is the solution that makes it easy to combine theory and practice. He describes the Chromebook as fast, versatile and easy to use. He concludes by saying “I’ve also converted my family and friends to the Chromebook to simplify their daily tasks. It’s so practical and easy that I’m trying to share this information with as many people as possible.”
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