Forest Park schools go ‘Google’

Forest Park students head to retrieve Chromebooks to use as part of their classroom educational experience.

CRYSTAL FALLS—The schools at Forest Park are receiving a substantial technical upgrade, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor.
    Superintendent Becky Waters said that the donor recently made a contribution of $30,000 to Forest Park in November of 2018. A portion of the funds, $4,000 worth, had a stipulation attached to it requiring that the funds be dedicated to professional development.
    The school decided to direct the funds to a process called “blended learning,” which essentially means integrating content on a computer (either on the machine itself, or through the Internet) with normal classes. The computer is not meant to replace the class outright; instead it is an additional tool that an instructor may use to enhance their presentation.
    The rest of the money that was donated to the school, all $26,000 worth, was earmarked to purchase several banks of Chromebooks for students to use during class. It is these Google products that will deliver the media that students will be asked to access during classes.
    Chromebooks are computers that are sold either as tablets or laptops. Instead of running Microsoft Windows, the ubiquitous operating system powering most consumer computers today, they instead use an enhanced version of the Google Chrome Internet web browser riding on top of a distribution of Linux.
    Linux itself is a completely free alternative to Windows that, in its various forms, offers a lot of power to users who wish to fine tune their machines to perfectly suit them. But, as a result, Linux-based systems usually come with a steep learning curve; that curve has prevented purer versions of Linux from gaining market share on PC desktops and laptops. Some operating systems have taken steps to use a simplified version of Linux as their base in order to deal with that problem, and Chrome OS (which powers the Chromebooks) is one example of that manifestation of Linux.
    As far Chromebooks go, their utility as serious computers has been derided by computer industry professionals in the past, since they can’t run the wide range of programs found on Microsoft or Apple-oriented systems. However, they are powered by what is currently the world’s most-used web browser, and as such they are well suited for work that stays on the Internet.

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