Google for Education Head, UK & Ireland
There’s no doubt that technology is transforming teaching and learning. The new technology is helping schools provide more equitable access to edtech tools and reduce e-waste.
If there is one big lesson that education leaders can take from the past two years’ of school closures and disruptions to classroom learning, it’s that technology can help close gaps in education. From the ability to teach science labs without any equipment, to taking students on virtual field trips to museums across the globe, inspired teachers are using edtech innovations to redefine educational experiences and give students ‘aha’ moments from afar.
The problem is not everyone has access to the devices needed to make the most of these innovations. In a 2020 National Foundation for Education Research study, teachers repeatedly highlight the importance of ‘all students having good and reliable access to appropriate technology’. Yet the May 2021 Department of Education report found that 1:1 access to laptops or tablets for pupils was extremely low, with just 1% of primary schools and 2% of secondary schools achieving the ratio.
Equitable access to edtech
To help close the gaps and make more devices accessible to students, Google for Education has introduced Chrome OS Flex. This cloud-first, easy-to-manage, and secure operating system can be deployed on PCs and Macs – or even to revive old Chromebooks – giving schools an affordable, sustainable way to get more life from older devices. Indeed, education leaders are hailing it as a key strategy in accelerating the implementation of 1:1 devices for every learner.
For example, St. Andrew’s Primary School in Newport, Wales is using the technology to modernise its old devices. “Being able to distribute refreshed devices has had a significant impact on remote learning for our school,” says Ellece Davies, Digital Competence Framework Coordinator at St. Andrew’s.
“We identified the families most in need of a device. From this, we were able to provide devices for almost 17% of our learners, which was around 65 households and 115 learners in total. After distributing the devices, levels of engagement reported by teachers were significantly higher and have remained consistently high since,” she says.
Being able to distribute refreshed devices has had a significant impact on remote learning for our school.
Investing in sustainability
Chrome OS Flex, previously called CloudReady, instantly modernises a school’s existing devices. At no cost to download, it transforms existing devices to provide educators and students with a unified, modern teaching and learning experience. It’s our way of helping to make computers easier and safer to use, while also becoming more sustainable.
Instead of taking old devices to recycling centres or having to replace relatively new working devices because they don’t fit with the rest of a school’s infrastructure, schools can easily upgrade existing equipment. It can be installed through USB or network deployment and, once installed, school IT admins can easily manage all devices via the Admin console.
“The installation is simple, which allows me to convert older computers quickly. It’s helped the school to turn almost 200 old computers into up to date computers that we expect to use for another two years,” says David Wong, Senior ICT Technician at Lilian Baylis Technology School.
This solution has the same security updates and release cadence as Chrome OS. From built-in protection against threats, to Google Safe Browsing, schools gain extra peace of mind that the user experience is as secure as can be.