All students at Evanston Township High School, even the Class of 2017, will have been issued Google Chromebooks by the beginning of the next school year in September, accelerating the deployment of computers by a year, the District 202 School Board learned Monday night.

Already the classes of 2018 and 2019 have their computers, and the Class of 2020 is scheduled to receive theirs when they enter the school as freshmen in September. That would leave the Senior Class of 2017 without computers under the former deployment schedule, according to David Chan, director of instructional technology.

The Class of 2017, however, will get theirs at the same time as the Class of 2020 and will be assessed a technology fee of $70, which will enable the computer speedup to be possible “without additional funding of the Instructional Technology budget,” Chan said.

Most of the additional computers will have been salvaged and refurbished, Chan said, but they all will be in good working order and covered by insurance, should they require further repairs.

The accelerated schedule, Chan declared, will “avoid the problem of having mixed classes of juniors and seniors where one group has access to a Chromebook while the other group does not.”

Chan said that classes that are all juniors or all seniors “are few and far between,” which was a point of concern on the part of the faculty.

The deployment of computers began a year ago with the freshman class of 2018 receiving Chromebooks. The Class of 2019 received their computers at the beginning of the current school year.

In a data-filled presentation, Chan reported that fewer than 1 percent of the 1,600 student-issued Chromebooks had been reported lost or stolen, 13 percent received warranty repair coverage, and 7 percent received insured repair coverage.

The school established a Student Tech Center, dubbed the “ChromeZone,” that handles all loaner, warranty, insurance, and invoicing for repairs. Students can earn community service hours by volunteering to help in the center, thereby obtaining valuable experience and education in the fast-growing area of computer repair.

A computer class, “Information Technology Internship (ITI),” enables students, who spend part of their time working in the ChromeZone, to learn both repair skills and communication skills, Chan said, while the other part of their time is spent engaging in independent projects and obtaining certifications.

As for the faculty, at least half of them have had special development training in the use of the computers as an adjunct to their classwork.

Board member Jonathan Baum said he found it “amazing” that so few computers had been lost or stolen. Chan said that special security measures had been taken and that the entire school had been told to turn into the Chrome Zone any computers that were found unattended.

Board President Pat Savage-Williams said she felt like “we’ve come very far very fast.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Google Deceptively Tracks Students’ Internet Browsing, EFF Says

    While providing a computer for every student is a great goal, Chromebooks in particular pose privacy risks for students. There are other options not subsidized by tracking and data mining.

    “Despite publicly promising not to, Google mines students’ browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company’s own purposes. Making such promises and failing to live up to them is a violation of FTC rules against unfair and deceptive business practices,” said EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo. “Minors shouldn’t be tracked or used as guinea pigs, with their data treated as a profit center. If Google wants to use students’ data to ‘improve Google products,’ then it needs to get express consent from parents.”

    1. EFF Claim
      EFF’s claim that the Student Privacy Pledge was broken was refuted by the very organization that created the pledge (see below link for response):

      Additionally, read Google’s response to the claim here:

      “Personally-identifiable Chrome Sync data in GAFE accounts is only used to power features in Chrome for that person, for example allowing students to access their own browsing data and settings, securely, across devices. In addition, our systems compile data aggregated from millions of users of Chrome Sync and, after completely removing information about individual users, we use this data to holistically improve the services we provide. For example if data shows that millions of people are visiting a webpage that is broken, that site would be moved lower in the search results. This is not connected to any specific person nor is it used to analyze student behaviors.”

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