Partnership aims to pair up new Chromebooks with teacher training


More than half of American schools operate on Google’s educational applications and tools — perhaps most notably the Chromebook — but without knowing how to use those devices effectively, many teachers and students can’t take full advantage of the technology.

That’s where CDI Computer Dealers and EdTechTeam want to come in. The two education companies recently partnered to deliver competitively priced technology and opportunities for professional development to educators across North America. For CDI, the partnership is an opportunity to connect more schools with its hardware offerings, and for EdTechTeam, it’s a chance to offer professional development to schools at the very start of their transitions to Chrome-based learning.

“We both agreed that school districts in North America can purchase hardware for their students and teachers, but if the teachers don’t have adequate training on how to integrate technology in the classroom, then the money they invested is going to go to waste,” said Lisa Thumann, senior director of teaching and learning at EdTechTeam, in an interview with EdScoop. “So why not partner a hardware supplier and a professional development provider to give schools the best opportunities for success?”

The partnership between CDI and EdTechTeam aims to create value for schools, provide affordable teaching resources and add momentum to the personalized learning approach.

CDI, which provides educational hardware for pre-K through 12th grade, says it has worked with more than 10,000 learning institutions — deploying over 250,000 Chromebooks in the process. After experimenting with in-house training for teachers, however, CDI decided to take its services one step further, said Glenn Collins, vice president of mobile computing at CDI, in an interview with EdScoop.

“The challenge we face as a hardware manufacturer — or as a supplier of technology — is that we aren’t teachers,” Collins said.

In the spring, Google introduced CDI to EdTechTeam, the largest of the 12 Google for Education Professional Development Partners in North America.

“You need to have the pedigree of coming from the education environment to really get how to teach [the integration of technology and education],” said Collins. “EdTechTeam is by far the best partner, I think, that we could find in that arena.”

EdTechTeam offers a catalogue of 182 one-day workshops and customized training plans. Thumann described the process of customizing professional development for school districts.

“We pre-survey the teachers to see what they know — and don’t know — about Chromebooks,” she said. “Then, we talk with the district about their initiatives and missions before sending in our team to conduct the professional development workshops.”

According to both CDI and EdTechTeam, Chromebooks are a cost-efficient and user-friendly asset for personalized learning. Much less expensive than a standard laptop, Chromebooks allow students to easily access the internet, where all of the apps they need are waiting to be used, said Michelle Armstrong, regional director for EdTechTeam in Canada.

Additionally, Google produces a management tool that allows the teachers to control how students are using their Chromebooks, Collins said. With this feature, teachers can manage and track activity on the students’ machines.

The professional development workshops don’t simply instruct educators on how to operate the device, Armstrong said.

“As much as we talk about how to use those tools,” Armstrong said, “our focus is how to harness collaboration in the classroom between teachers and students.”