Google pushing Chromebooks for schools

Apple wants to swarm classrooms with iPads and interactive textbooks. What about Google? Judging by a news story on CNet, the search giant is pushing Chromebooks in school districts—and succeeding, at least to some extent.

CNet says schools in Iowa, Illinois, and South Carolina will be getting no fewer than 27,000 Chromebooks for their classrooms. According to Google’s Rajen Sheth, Google now has "hundreds of schools across 41 states that have outfitted at least one classroom with Chromebooks." Sheth says students "appreciate" the laptops’ quick boot times and long battery lives (purportedly 8.5 hours, or enough for a school day).

I can see the appeal, too. Tablets might be great for consuming content, be it textbooks or otherwise, but a Chromebook seems like a more fitting machine for middle- or high-school students: small, cheap, portable, with a keyboard to type on and software that lets you do schoolwork. The lightweight, cloud-driven operating system is a nice plus, since it shouldn’t be too vulnerable to malware, and a hardware failure shouldn’t take out the student’s work.

I suppose the ideal would be a Chromebook-like device with a touchscreen and some sort of snazzy e-textbook software. In the meantime, Chromebooks may be a more practical solution than tablets for education.

Comments closed
    • EC4IT
    • 8 years ago

    The South Carolina school district mentioned in the article has licensed Ericom AccessNow for VMware View for use along with their Chromebooks by its 30,000 students and staff. AccessNow for VMware View will be deployed across its 35 K-12 schools.

    Ericom AccessNow for VMware View is a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables Chromebook users to connect to their VMware virtual desktops – and run those desktops in a browser. It does not require Java, Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, or any other underlying technology to be installed on end-user devices – an HTML5 browser is all that is required.

    For more information on this case study, visit:

    [url<]http://www.ericom.com/pr/pr_111206.asp?URL_ID=708[/url<] Adam Note: I work for Ericom

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 8 years ago

    The perfect nanny state computer from the perfect databasing and trend research spy grid company. Hopefully every keystroke is logged and the mics/cameras are permanently on 24/7. Can’t have the little tykes reading books and thinking for themselves. Free thought might lead to questioning the system.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      Luckily those tinfoil hats they make in kindergarten won’t go to waste.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 8 years ago

        Yeah, keep thinking it won’t happen when it already has.
        [url<]http://boingboing.net/2010/02/17/school-used-student.html[/url<] You: Fingers in ears, "NANANANANNANANANA". The problem with you deniers is that you want it so bad to not be true, then when it actually happens you can't believe it. Wake up. People like you is why Jerry Sandusky got away with child abuse for so long.

    • Kollaps
    • 8 years ago

    I can’t imagine a worse vendor lock-in than Google. You have zero confidence in the future of ChromeOS/Chromebooks. It’s a company noted for suddenly shuttering their services. Your only hope for third party application access is web apps.

    You tech children how to create and develop new technologies and how to use current ones as tools. You don’t use entertainment consumption devices as traditional educational delivery mechanisms. At least not this way. It infuriates me how backwards the educational system has this and how corporations like Google are forcing themselves in to this “market” knowing full well their solutions are second rate, that children are not getting better educations but simply corporations are making more money from the process.

      • AntiSp4wn
      • 8 years ago

      What terribly wrong information. You need to understand the difficulties school districts have with technology. Their costs are exorbitant. The amount of time, money, and staff it takes to setup a Windows computer lab is unbelievable. Maintenance and management are even larger and even more expensive problems. Reimaging alone is an administrative nightmare. Meanwhile everyone wants more technology in the classroom, and Chromebooks are clearly the best product in this field to ever come out for schools. Remember back when Apple was dominant in schools, then they pulled out and Microsoft became the de facto option despite their model being simply terrible for budget restricted school districts.

      Google does not turn it’s back or flounder for PAID products. There is good reason why millions of businesses use Google Apps and thousands more sign up every day. The experience you, as a free “customer”, gets is not comparable to the 24/7 commitment Google gives to enterprise customers.

      You ought to go listen to districts that have made the switch. [b<]Chromebooks are a godsend for schools.[/b<] I say none of this as a Google fanboy but as someone who cares and understands the tremendous difficulties schools face, and this is one niche product that alleviates nearly all of them.

    • ronch
    • 8 years ago

    I’m not really a big fan of the Chromebook idea. I can see all those kids vying for Internet bandwidth, with Google possibly monitoring each of those kid’s activity. And what if the school’s Internet connection suddenly came crashing down?

    Enough said.

    • tfp
    • 8 years ago

    Of course they are they bombed last earnings, need more add revenue.

    • Dposcorp
    • 8 years ago

    With the new academic direction the Ipad is taking, I think Google is still a step behind Apple, and they need to start thinking of a cheap tablet along with or instead of a chromebook for schools.

    “Apple announces iBooks 2, iBooks Author to “reinvent textbooks”: Just as we expected, Apple has announced iBooks 2, an interactive textbook application for the iPad, and iBooks Author, a Mac app to allow authors to create those textbooks. ”

    Source:
    [url<]http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2012/01/apple-announces-ibooks-2-to-reinvent-textbooks.ars[/url<]

      • demani
      • 8 years ago

      I’d look to see Motorola pushing into this space with some sort of ChromeOS tablet actually. It makes sense from a few different areas.

      It does seem a bit like going back to a terminal type setup, where the data lives on the server and you just login to get it (only now the terminal comes with you-though it doesn’t really [i<]need[/i<] to, though it is more convenient to be sure.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    IMO, getting kids reliant on PC’s too early in their written-language education is stupid.

    I’m already seeing way too many young adults who know nothing, only how to look things up. We don’t ALSO need them missing out on years of handwriting or learning to spell.

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Actually, there were a bunch of studies in the 80s that showed that introducing keyboards and computers to very young children [i<]helped[/i<] with their literacy skills. The reason seemed to be that very young children are still developing the motor skills and endurance necessary to write with a pen, whereas using a keyboard -- even hunt-n-peck -- is easier and less tiring. They therefore wrote [i<]more[/i<] when they use a keyboard, and that made a big difference in developing their language skills. The handwriting came along later, as their motor skills developed (you don't eliminate handwriting when you introduce keyboards -- and these days most kids will have a computer at home they're using anyway, putting those who don't at a disadvantage.) [quote<]I'm already seeing way too many young adults who know nothing, only how to look things up.[/quote<]That's a completely separate problem. And it's not new: I remember when I was in school there were always the kids who didn't do anything more for a report than copy directly out of one entry in Encyclopedia Britannica. As for spelling, well, I somewhat agree -- though it's worth remembering it's a peculiarly acute problem for English, but not for some other languages (Russian, for example, is phonetic so the very idea of spelling tests -- much less spelling bees -- is bizarre.) However I think a much bigger problem is the people who can't recognize or don't know the difference between homonyms or near-homonyms, which is fundamentally a vocabulary problem -- just in the past week i've corrected folks confused about tenet/tenant, regime/regimen, and (sigh, yet again) cache/cachet. And then there's all the trouble with you're/your and they're/their/there and of course it's/its. That's a grammar problem, not a spelling problem, and it has nothing to do with computers or spell-checking (unless people just aren't reading what they're producing, which again isn't a spelling problem [i<]per se[/i<].)

    • pruckelshaus
    • 8 years ago

    As both a public high school teacher (English and CompSci) and a participant in the Google ChromeBook beta, I’d like to toss in my $.02.

    From a conceptual perspective, the ChromeBook is fantastic for education. It’s a simple, low-overhead, low-maintenance device that does a lot; use the web, and the myroad web services that Google offers, such as gmail and google docs. Multiple students can use the same device without issue by just logging in with their Google account login, and if a chromebook “goes bad”, just hand the kid another unit and they are up and running. The drawbacks are (for me) that you can’t install apps on the device, and no reasonably mature web-based alternatives exist for those apps. So, without NetBeans for teaching my CS students Java, it’s a non-starter. But for classes that has computer needs that are focused on research and document creation, it’s nearly the perfect device.

    Here’s where the whole ChromeBook idea goes south. Why would any school district (and all of the districts that I know are currently under severe fiscal constraints) in its right mind purchase a classroom full of Chromebooks at $399 each, when they can purchase a Windows or Linux based Netbook for nearly half the price and have a more flexible device? Sure, they lose the ease of maintenance and administration, but districts are going to be looking at the up-front costs, not the maintenance costs. Chromebooks aren’t going to sell in any appreciable numbers in the education space unless they realize this and bring the price down to something more realistic; $250 would be a step in the right direction, $200 would be better, and $175 would be a game-changer.

      • bthylafh
      • 8 years ago

      You need to keep up more. Chromebooks now start at $299 for an 11.6″ screen and 802.11n.

      I should hope that school IT depts would take maintenance cost and time under consideration as well, but they might not if they don’t understand just how much easier these things are to deal with versus Windows and its viruses and misconfigured s/w. One wonders if Google makes it easy to get demo units.

      But yes, whether they’re a good fit depends strongly on what the plans for them are, since they’re just not as flexible as a standard laptop and never will be.

    • Thatguy
    • 8 years ago

    All that i can ask about school oriented anything is that the software not become fragmented. All e-textbooks and etc should be usable on any platform.

    • chuckula
    • 8 years ago

    The good: These laptops aren’t setup to play Crysis or other over the top games, although the smarter churlens will likely find a way to goof off with them instead of getting the edjimuhkayshuns with them.

    The bad: [Yoda]Begun the Google brainwashing at an early age has.[/Yoda] This is kind of like what Apple used to do back in the day. It was the ultimate in long-term investments: Apple got in with kids in the 80’s and early 90’s, and now those kids are the latte swilling Apple buyers that keep Apple rolling in it (with a long painful interstitial when Apple dropped the ball).

    [b<]Edit: Ooh looks like I got on the nerves of the Google fanboys... That's another checkbox I can mark off on my sheet. I've almost earned a free toaster![/b<]

      • FuturePastNow
      • 8 years ago

      A Chromebook will run Quake Live, though.

        • bthylafh
        • 8 years ago

        Are you sure? The GPU and CPU on my Cr-48 are pretty weak.

          • demani
          • 8 years ago

          Remember what Quake ran on originally…

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 8 years ago

            Quake Live is Quake 3.

            However your point still stands.

            • bthylafh
            • 8 years ago

            Don’t be so sure. The official system requirements:

            OS: WinXP or Vista
            Browser: IE7+, Firefox 2+
            CPU: P3-800 or Athlon, recommend 2GHz+ Intel processor
            Screen res: 1024×600, recommend 1680×1050
            GPU: GF4MX+ or Radeon 8500+ or i915+, recommend GF7 or Radeon x1800

            The Atoms that Chromebooks have will give performance at the bottom end of the requirements, though the GPU is at least somewhat faster than the i915, but the killer seems to be that neither the browser nor the underlying OS are officially supported.

            • bthylafh
            • 8 years ago

            No, it will not work on Chrome OS. Gets to the page where it wants to install the plugin and it just sits there doing nothing.

      • albundy
      • 8 years ago

      i dont think it really matters. what you think of brainwashing isnt really like that as kids just dont care about marketing gimmicks. the fact that they have the opportunity to learn how to use a pc is what really counts. i remember as a kid playing games on the black and white macs we had in school, cus thats what the class was all about.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      Last few times I’ve been in the library kids (9-12) have been playing Minecraft in a sandbox using thin terminals.

      There’s no way this would stop them.

        • bthylafh
        • 8 years ago

        Heh, yes it would. Chrome OS doesn’t have a Java runtime unless you put it into dev mode and grab a third-party package.

      • swaaye
      • 8 years ago

      I don’t think it brainwashes as much as might superficially be expected. All that Apple hardware in elementary and high school was just a tool to use (and play games on). During my wonderful public school “career” I progressed through Apple II to PowerMacs. This really just gave me an appreciation for variety, because at home everyone had DOS/Windows. In college I got to play with Sun workstations and that was cool too.

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