What's the best device for your one-to-one or blended learning approach? What's the best way to deploy instructional technology at your school? Some might say that's a loaded question because what's “best” for one school may not fit the requirements for another. Yet, as the device wars continue between Apple's iPad Air, Chromebooks, Macbooks, Windows Surface and Android tablets and, yes, even traditional PCs, it does appear that one platform—the Chromebook—continues to gain greater and greater market penetration. Let's consider three factors that account for the success of Chromebooks in education.
IDC lead analyst Ms. Rajani Singh reported that 2014 may have been a turning-point year for Chromebooks. Some 13.2 million devices were shipped to educational accounts during the year. Microsoft claimed about 4.9 million of those. Apple's 4.2 million units gave the company about 32 percent of the education market. However, during the year some 3.9 million Chromebooks were sold while only 2.7 million iPads found homes in education, down from 2.9 million a year earlier. Then, during the first half of 2015, another 2.4 million Chromebooks were sold to educational accounts, with another 2.2 million Windows devices following. Full year results for 2015 are not yet in, but the trend is clear.
Today, Google offers Chromebooks for $149, and Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and others are competing for market share. Chromebook prices continue to fall. Further, Chromebooks have keyboards, making students equally adept at consuming content and creating content. Tablets are more suitable for consumption.
2) Ease of Deployment and Management
Google has simplified the deployment of Chromebooks and device management. Device management licenses for Chromebooks allow you to remotely manage them across your organization using the Google Admin console to configure security and device policies.
Using Google's “Chrome for Work and Education Help” website, you'll find seven steps that lead you through setting up and enrolling your Chrome devices. Management of those devices is outlined under the same website here.
3) The Cloud
When Google introduced the world's first Chromebook in December 2010—its beta edition was known as the CR-48 Chromebook—they wanted to dramatically demonstrate benefits of “the cloud” to its beta testers. This lighthearted and curious YouTube video made the introduction very clear indeed.
Since then, the cloud has become a repository for virtually everything Chromebook users create. Also, the cloud has benefits that make it more than a file storage facility; it is populated with robust applications the commercial world has dubbed SaaS: Software as a Service. Such applications simplify deployment and management of Chromebooks as noted above. They also provide the productivity tools (Gmail, Docs, Calendar, etc.) and classroom management tools students and teachers need on a daily basis.
Are Chromebooks Right for Your School?
Even with the popularity of Chromebooks, you may still be wondering if it's the best platform for your school. You may want to take a few minutes to review several case studies. Or, visit the Leyden school system to learn about their school technology choices, and especially their article on Why 1:1? Why Chromebooks?