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.