Last week, EdTech Magazine published a feature on the relatively inexpensive and low-maintenance Chromebooks as alternatives to more expensive laptops and tablets. With prices starting as low as $249, they’re far less costly than tablets and laptops, which run at double to quadruple the price of the Chromebooks. The lightweight Chromebook computers are powered by the Chrome OS operating system. The devices function solely through the cloud, so users must have a Wi-Fi connection in order to use them.
On their website, Google explains why Chromebooks are so effective in education:
Chrome devices are optimized for the web’s vast educational resources. Integrate rich content into lessons, inspire collaboration, and encourage students to create and share their own content with the world. Chrome devices deliver it all without lengthy startup times or tedious training. They’re a simple, scalable and affordable way to put technology into the hands of more students and teachers. Chrome devices streamline the hours that IT administrators spend managing computers. The Chrome operating system seamlessly improves over time and the available web-based management console lets administrators set up and manage users, apps and policies across an entire fleet of Chrome devices, even if the devices are distributed across many classrooms.
EdTech Magazine profiled several school districts who use the Chromebooks, including Marshall Public Schools in Wisconsin, the Fairfield County School District in South Carolina, and Iowa’s Council Bluffs Community School District. Administrators found the Chromebooks to be affordable solutions to providing mobile computing devices for students, particularly since some of the schools qualified for free or reduced-price lunches and couldn’t afford traditional laptops. Teachers even found that learning improved as a result of adopting the Chromebooks.
“With our students learning to use tech tools integrated across subjects, they’re more engaged,” said Marshall Public School’s Director of Instruction Mary Jo Ziegler, as quoted in EdTech Magazine’s article. “They’re not only doing more writing and completing more homework, the quality is higher. Even our teachers are collaborating more.”
A couple downsides of the Chromebooks include difficulties with Wi-Fi access and access to commonly used applications. If a school’s Wi-Fi doesn’t have sufficient bandwidth, students won’t be able to use the computers at all. In addition, students are limited to using Google Apps for Education (such as Google Drive, Google Forms, etc.) and, as they won’t be able to use typical Microsoft Office applications such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
Check out EdTech Magazine’s feature on schools’ adoptions of the Chromebooks here.
Readers, do you use Chromebooks? How effective do you find them? Sound off in the comments below, or share your thoughts on Twitter to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.