Google is working hard to deliver Chromebooks—personal computers running the Chrome operating system— to students around the country. Last January, Google brought more than 27,000 Chromebooks to students in Iowa, Illinois and South Carolina and are working on delivering more for the 2012-2013 school year.
Google’s top Chromebook for business and education advocate Rajen Sheth says that the browser-based laptops work perfectly for students because of their quick startup time, 8.5 hour battery life and collaborative, cloud-based productivity.
Educators at Millennium Charter Academy in North Carolina will incorporate Chromebooks into the eighth year of their one-to-one laptop initiative program to replace some aging PCs. The academy’s IT director Lu Anne Browne praised the computers’ cloud-based functionality: “How many times has a student found themselves in trouble after they haven’t saved or backed up their work and their computer crashes?” she asked. “With their information being stored on the cloud, students will not lose their work.”
She also highlighted the computers’ collaborative capabilities, pointing out that students will be able to use the cloud to work together on projects much more easily than they can on laptops that require internal drives.
Rockingham County Schools are the latest to receive Chromebooks. In the upcoming school year, each student in the county’s five high schools will receive a brand new device that they can take home with them after class. Students completed a survey on internet access at home and the findings revealed that many students lacked a connection. The Chromebooks can now enable Rockingham County teachers to deliver online education outside of the classroom. A Reidsville High School sophomore said that many of their assignments will now be web-based, challenging the tradition of using heavy textbooks for homework.
High schools in Franklin Park, Illinois will also receive one Chromebook for each of its 3,300 students, and teachers are currently undergoing professional development on how to incorporate the computers into their curriculum.
“Teachers before had to schedule time to go to a computer lab or the library,” Bryan Weinert, one of the district’s directors of technology said. “Laptops allow teachers to access technology that they can plan with or for those spontaneous moments in class where a question is asked.”
Google’s efforts this year to get Chromebooks in the hands of students and educators is clearly an effort to challenge the primacy of Windows PCs and Apple computers in many schools. But do Chromebooks bring anything new to the table? Google continues to boast the Chromebook’s usage of the cloud, but anyone with an internet connection can take advantage of the cloud. This blog post was written on Google Docs and saved on Google Drive, all from an old-fashioned internal-storage desktop computer that weighs 30 pounds.
But even if a Chromebook isn’t as innovative as Google would have customers believe, the chance for students to get a hold of the latest technology is always valuable. Do any of our readers attend schools with Chromebooks in the classrooms? How do students use these new computers? Let us know in the comments below.