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‘Chromebook Camp’ popular with Mon teachers

Laptops don’t always live to tell about it. Chris Urban knows.

Urban, who directs technology services for Monongalia County’s school district, has seen computer casualties from travel mug coffee.

And laptops laid low by skittish canines and rambunctious toddlers.

Then there was the time that goat — hold up. She’ll get to that.

Urban is helping oversee this year’s Chromebook camp, which is a summer tradition in the district.

With the help of excess levy dollars, Mon Schools began issuing the Google laptop computers around five years ago as a way to digitally enhance and extend classroom learning.

Pre-pandemic, they were usually only booted up during the occasional snow day — but that was before the day.

On March 13, 2020, Gov. Jim Justice ordered all schools closed in anticipation of the then-looming spate of coronavirus cases hitting all around West Virginia.

That meant full-on remote instruction.

That meant Urban had to start teaching teachers, and quick.

“They were a little bummed at first,” Urban said Thursday. “They didn’t like the distance and they didn’t know the technology.”

Eventually, though, she said, the educators began getting educated.

Morgantown High art teacher Sam Brunett, for example, began producing his own videos, which he has since catalogued.

“It’s amazing where everybody is now,” the technology director said.

Some 70 of those teachers on Thursday morning were logged into sessions for the third day of the district’s “Chromebook Camp,” that will present 126 sessions when it wraps up next week.

More than 150 had logged on for Monday’s first day, she said.

“Their pandemic experiences had everything to do with it,” Urban said.

It’s not just about learning computer applications, she said. It’s about learning how to use them with classroom content.

“It’s like, ‘Well, here’s how you can really use ‘Google slides,’ ” she said.

Next week, her office will take on the task of repairing those Chromebooks that didn’t escape the year unscathed.

The newer models boast spill-proof keyboards, she said.

Her techs mostly see chipped and cracked monitors, Urban said, along with sprung casings on the flip-top lids, what with all that opening and closing.

As far as the most-amazing aftermath of damage she’s seen … well, it’s an open-and-shut case.

Three summers ago a student reported that his pet goat ate his Chromebook battery charger.

Yep. Made a meal of it, and everything.

“I don’t think we’re gonna top that.”

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