Gilbert Public Schools and Chromebook – Worst Technology Rollout EVER!

You know it’s bad in Gilbert Public Schools when students are chirping to Westie. Whoever thought this Chromebook initiative would work without having a rollout plan and the fifty thousand known glitches identified and fixed doesn’t know much about kids, mischief making, education  or technology.  Woo hoo! Let’s see what the kids have to say!

First problem: network logins. These Digital Native kids know all about how admin-issued usernames and passwords are standardized in GPS. In the real world, kids  use their admin-assigned logins one time, and then the kids set their own usernames and passwords. For security, you know.  Really tech-savvy kids would use a combination of letters and numbers for their usernames and passwords, more than five characters and other niceties that increase security for the GPS-issued Chromebooks. Those are the kids who are truly *Digital Natives.* Of course, there will be some students whose username is admin and whose password is password. Always happens.

The current situation confronting the serious Digital Native students is that GPS won’t let them set up their own secure usernames and passwords. Nope, if kids try to change their admin-issued login information, the GPS system resets to the default that the techies dreamed up … so that, before the end of the last school year, GPS could spend all that money that they claimed was reserved for technology only. The GPS superintendency needed to get those Chromebooks rolled out to students for their 1:1 technology program so there would be no more old override money left in GPS. Of course, Digital Natives figured out how to use the back door to set up their own secure username and password.  Note to Superintendent Christina 3-2 Kishimoto: there’s ALWAYS a back door into the network.

Second problem: GPS issued usernames and passwords using a naming convention that’s the same it has always been. Settle down, GPS clowns, we’re not going to reveal the GPS system hack here. That would be too easy, and besides, the kids already know what to do, whether or not they’re using that knowledge right away. Some of these Digital Natives are patient people, and they’ll wait until they’re truly bored or angry or feeling mischievous and only then will they let loose:

Remote access.
Sharing control of your Chromebook.
Traditional Linux desktop.

Third problem: Chromebooks have webcams and microphones. Kids, cover the webcam at all times: a Post-it works well for this. Remember, Big Brother can listen to anything you say within range of the microphone. Disabling these functions probably would violate the user agreement (scroll down to the bottom of this post to see your user agreement that your parents must sign).

Let’s envision a couple of scenarios that Executive Director of Technology, Sleazy Steve, must have sworn could never happen when GPS gave out thousands of Chromebooks to GPS students.

RealWorld v1:  Jazzy Jared is a real number-oriented kid. He hears numbers, and he memorizes them on the spot. Jazzy Jared has been a GPS student since Kindergarten (he’s in high school now) and he knows a lot of his classmates’ student numbers. Every day, some classmate would forget his lunch card, but the nice Lunch Lady could pay for his lunch by inputting his student number into the system, which the classmate recited out loud while Jazzy Jared was back in the line. Voila. Username and password.

RealWorld v2: Social Suzy has so many BFFs, she’s lost count. When she’s hanging out with all those BFFs, they log in to retrieve an assignment so they can work on it together in their BFF society. Pretty soon, all those BFFs are able log into each other’s GPS accounts, because they just want to get their assignments over and done with so they can get back to hanging out. Everything is fine until one day, one of the BFFs falls out of favor for some teen angst or failing, and the others decide to upload some photos they took in gym class. The photos are not a really big deal, except for the violation of privacy, but the captions the former BFFs affix to said photos are mean. Maybe the captions even cross into the realm of cyberbullying. The GPS login system shows the victim uploaded said photos herself, so she gets victimized twice.

RealWord v3: Brainy Brady wants to fit in with his classmates, so he figures out how to delete files for half the students in his Honors Chemistry class. Then he deletes his own files to cover his tracks. Teacher can’t pin the deed on Brainy Brady or any of his pals who all say they totally finished and earned A++ on those assignments that have disappeared into cyberspace … three days before the end of the term. BTW, Brainy Brady and his pals are Juniors, so their final Honors Chemistry grades have to be A++ or they won’t get the scholarships they were counting on as National Merit Scholar Finalists. What’s a teacher to do?

RealWorld v4: The Language Arts teacher yelled at Defiant Dylan in class today, and a bunch of the other kids in class teased him about it after school. So D.D. fixes them all. Defiant Dylan uploads the same assignment for each of the kids who taunted him. Cheating. Plagiarism. Zeros. Whatever. They had it coming.

RealWorld v5: Serious Serena is a Senior and she suddenly has five guys in her classes emailing her and asking her to Prom. Who will she choose? She finally decides on Gorgeous Garrett, and sends him an email to accept. Garrett says he wouldn’t be caught dead with Serena, and why did she think he asked her to Prom anyway? Serena is totally humiliated, the depths of which only a 17 year old girl can experience.

RealWorld v6: Porn. Tell kids it’s impossible to do something from a GPS Chromebook and guess what happens next…

Parents, remember how GPS said they would hold a Parents University to teach you how to use the Chromebook so you can understand what your child is doing in school? That’s not going to happen any time soon. It’s just a fuzzy plan for some point in the future. In the meantime, when your child is having a meltdown because he needs to print that assignment for tomorrow, and he just realized his Chromebook doesn’t have a print function, well, do the best you can.

Here’s the illiterate Student Electronic User Agreement handout for parents: Parent Expectations Digital Ninja . Notice that you parents must sign a PAPER COPY of this agreement before your child will be issued a Chromebook. In case you missed it, GPS once again forms plurals by adding apostrophe + S. Like this: plural’s. Why won’t they learn?


Parent Guidelines and Procedures:

Your son/daughter will be issued a Chromebook to improve and personalize his/her education this year.  It is essential that the following guidelines be followed to ensure the safe, efficient, and ethical operation of this device. The student will be issued ONE Chromebook, and one* power cord. If the device and/or power cord is lost, or damaged the student will be required to create a Chromebook Service request form. If the Chromebook has been stolen a police report must be filed by the parent/guardian within 24 hours upon discovery of the theft. A copy of the police report needs to be turned in to the school. The student will not be issued another Chromebook until this issue has been resolved.

I will supervise my child’s use of the Chromebook at home.
I will discuss our family’s values and expectations regarding the use of the Internet and email at home and I will supervise my Child’s use of the Internet and email.
I will not attempt to repair the Chromebook, nor will I attempt to clean it with anything other than a soft, dry cloth.
I will report to the school any problems with the Chromebook.
I will not attempt to install or delete any apps from the Chromebook.
I will not allow my child to use the Chromebook around food or drink.
I will make sure my child recharges the Chromebook battery nightly.
I will make sure my child brings the Chromebook to school every day.
I  agree to make sure that the Chromebook is returned to the school when requested at the end of the school year,  or upon my child’s withdrawal from the school.

Extra credit for students who send Westie an edited printout of the above screed! Use a red pen, please.

*Big Fat Asterisk: why ONE Chromebook and one power cord? Why not ONE Chromebook and ONE power cord, or one Chromebook and ONE POWER CORD? This inconsistency was worthy of a Big FAT Asterisk callout.

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