Are Chromebooks the answer for the modern classroom?

Advancements in technology and communication have changed the route of the education system. Students are presented with a vast universe of resources from the comfort of a single screen, and trips to the library have become almost irrelevant for new generations. But the main source of this phenomena hasn’t exactly been hardware, but what is behind it – The internet.

The world wide web’s immense database contains information and tools for every topic imaginable. The internet has evolved so much that Google’s Chromebooks revolve solely around it. These are simplified computers that exclude a full PC operating system like Windows or Mac OS, working solely as a browser. This platform enables the browser’s full potential and capabilities by working “in the cloud” (only from the internet). In Google’s terms, this is the best option for the education system to digitize the modern classroom.

Today, Google is meeting with thousands of educators and school staff at the International Society for Technology in Education conference in San Diego, CA. It comes as no surprise that the Search Giant would attempt to introduce its solution to the education system. Not only would it be a substantial source of revenue, but the nature of the Chromebook is in many ways beneficial to such environment.

What are the cons?

Before analyzing how this method would be the best option, it is important to understand its faults. The most important being that Chromebooks are not full-featured computers, and though they are touted to have a lower price-point, that isn’t exactly the case. Some Windows netbooks go for as low as $200 or less, while Chromebooks cost as low as $300 and as much as $500. Even when purchasing the lowest-end Chromebook, the smallest price difference will amount to a hefty price considering the amount of computers that would need to be purchased.

The education system’s significant investment in programs, whether they be purchased or developed, is also an issue. Making the decision to move to “the cloud” would mean leaving behind all past software and techniques the school system may have adopted years prior.

What are the Pros?

But does this mean that Chromebooks have nothing to offer? Of course not. The Chrome browser (or any browser, for that matter) is indeed a fully capable source of information. Web apps and extensions would not only offer functionality to students, but also flexibility to schools.

There is a plethora of educational apps available, including scientific calculators, books and other tools. As for currently-used PC programs, one can easily access office apps straight from a browser by using Google Drive (previously known as Google Docs) or Microsoft Office Online. It would certainly be hard to replace programs of the likes of Photoshop, video editing software, etc. But a Chromebook is more than capable of relieving usual student tasks, and the school could always purchase a small amount of traditional computers for classrooms dedicated to complex activities.

As already mentioned, the price would indeed not be the lowest available for a personal computer, but having a device that operates solely as a browser has its monetary advantages. Because the platform works only with internet-enabled apps and extensions, the school system can save thousands of workforce hours dedicated to installing hardware and software. These apps are easy to find and download straight from the Chrome Web Store, and any student can do it in less than a minute.

Chromebooks would also not need to be given to every student to take home. Schools could simply have these placed in every desk, without allowing students to carry them around; hence, avoiding user-damage. Because these computers work from the cloud, all students would have to do is log in to their Google account at arrival, and all of their content would be readily available within a matter of seconds. The same applies when they come home and use the Chrome browser from any computer.

Methods to accomplish this already exist, but the process involves many hours of work from the school’s IT staff to set up servers and network connections on every computer. Once again, this would alleviate many hours of workforce that could be used for other purposes.

What do you think?

The education system will definitely need much more than this article to be convinced, but the ultimate decision comes from us; students and educators as a whole. It is a fact that education is one of the strongest weapons any country can have. As such, investment in the future of our students is a necessity. By redirecting our resources to help the young learn more, better and more efficiently, we build a brighter future.

While a Chromebook may not be a necessity, I believe it would be a great tool for education, as well as a budget-friendly one. Do you?

[Via: Google Official Blog]