My favorite Chrome Apps to date:
- goo.gle URL shortener – includes a QR code generator
- TabCloud – allows me to pick and save preset tabs based on functions–I had one for ISTE, SCETV workshops, Home, School
- Select to send to Maps – allows me to right click on an address and send it to Google Maps–sweeeet!
- DropBox – my go to place for cloud storage, though I am trying out sugar Sync and Box.net.
I love it. So what’s the problem?
So it was an interesting discussion held the other day with colleagues about the feasibility of having students use Chrome in a school setting that is NOT anywhere near a one to one environment.
Can students have a personalized experience at my school?
My argument was that this web browser is built on the foundation that a user “personalizes” it–makes it meet needs with all those cool extensions and apps. How can this interface be offered to students? Wouldn’t students (particularly high school) change the apps and extensions every time they sat down at the library computers in my teaching context? One of my colleagues told me that Internet Explorer, the browser of choice by the district, is pretty much at the point where it is a browser waiting to be personalized as well, and that most fans do personalize it. So my mission in the coming days is to see if our students have made changes to the default web browser for our school context.
And let’s not forget the “lock-down…”
Currently we are running a Novell platform for networking, and network and productivity programs are delivered via an application launcher. The default browser for students is Internet Explorer, and to my knowledge they cannot change that, even if they could download an alternate browser. Save for the “Start” menu button, students have a blank desktop, and their start menu is pretty limited as well. They cannot add shortcuts to the desktop. They are very much locked down, though I know there are a few savvy students who understand maneuvering around in their locked state online at school. We are transitioning to the Microsoft Networking platform in the near future, and I have worked in a previous district (three years ago) that transitioned then, and so I know the student portal is getting ready to become even more tightly locked down. I have my own opinions on how doing this is not giving educators an opportunity to help students harness tools for productivity and learning, and everything I want to try with kids will have to be well planned out, tried out way ahead of time using a student level of access, and then requested tweaks to access will have to be awaited patiently. But I do get it as to why districts do this–I guess. At least I no longer question the purpose of filtering and locking down machines that kids use. At times, I wish certain professionals would have their machines locked down just a little too.
Is there a crack in the door?
But back to my original topic. Chrome. My own district is in the throws of purchasing a Google domain so as to set up students with what I assume will be school controlled Google profiles–and word is they will start with a gmail/school email account. Hooray for progressive ideas and thinkers! Have to start somewhere, right? But will our students be able to set up Google Chrome (or what ever browser they choose) and be able to personalize it for optimal functionality? I have my doubts.
We shall see. The future is looking brighter on that front, that’s for sure.