Ohio County Students, Parents Advised On Proper Chromebook Care

Wheeling Park High School students, some accompanied by family members, pick up their new Chromebooks.

WHEELING — The Chromebooks used by students in Ohio County Schools have the capability to unlock a world of learning and creativity for students if used properly, according to Patrick Riddle, technology coordinator for Ohio County Schools.

“Our basic message to parents is we have these devices to use in class — we’re not trying to go 100 percent paperless,” he said. “We just want to make sure we have them for teachers to move instruction forward into different areas.”

The start of this school year sees more than 2,000 Chromebooks placed in the hands of Ohio County students in grades 6-12 costing more than $670,000.

Riddle said he understands the concerns expressed by some parents when they tell him, “We don’t want kids to stare at screens 24/7.”

“It’s a creativity tool — not an entertainment tool,” Riddle said of the Chromebook. “They help students find ways to express themselves when we give them assignments.”

The Chromebooks come equipped with apps that allow them to do such things as make a short video or create a book as a project.

But teachers also are giving students non-tech options to do projects, Riddle said. They provide them a list from which they can choose, and at least one will “have nothing to do with technology,” he said.

As for care of the Chromebooks, Riddle described them as being durable with rubberized bumpers on the outside.

“As with any computer, the rule is no spills and no drops,” he said. “If you can maintain them and keep them cleaned up, there should be no issues.”

He advises not to hold any food or drink items above them.

Last year, a pilot program placed the first Chromebook in Ohio County Schools in the hands of sixth grade students. Riddle said only a few minor issues with care of the Chromebooks resulted.

“We are a certified repair center for Chromebooks, and can repair whatever goes wrong,” he said. “We were trained last summer. Anything that goes wrong we can diagnose it, fix it and give it back to the kids.

“And we have loaners on site to give them while their Chromebook is out of service.”

The procedure for seeking repairs to a Chromebook varies from school to school, according to Riddle. Most schools have appointed one teacher to be the contact person for care of Chromebooks, he said.

“At each building, there should be a location they can go or a teacher that can walk them through the process of maintenance,” Riddle said.

There generally is no cost to the students or their families for the Chromebook, or for any of the accessories, parts or maintenance it might need, he said.

The student, however, is responsible for paying for any lost charger — or for any intentional damage or loss occurring to the Chromebook, according to Riddle.

In addition to the video and book-making apps, the Chromebooks come equipped with apps for video editing and interacting with images on-screen.

The Chromebooks are part of a computer network established by the West Virginia Department of Education and connected to a hub in Morgantown, he said. Student access to websites on the Chromebook is filtered through this network.

He encourages students and their families to pose any questions they have about the Chromebooks to their teachers.

“If they don’t know the answer, they will direct you to someone who does,” Riddle said.

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