Chromebooks For Schools: Why Classrooms Are Switching To Chromebooks


Are Chromebooks The Solution to Challenges In Online Learning?

Chromebooks have been designed to not only aid learning but also provide users with a variety of tools for work and play. These provisions will enable the recipient, in this case, students in elementary and high schools, to stay abreast of  happenings all around them.

The stripped-down laptop might not be practical enough for some business professionals and graphics designers but is a perfect fit for students and the educational clime. This is because they are easy to maintain and really affordable. Its budget-friendliness has made them a favorite by educational institutions constrained by a tight budget and limited tech support. 

How Popular Have Chromebooks Become?

Numbers don’t lie do they? According to a widely published report, Chromebooks have amassed for itself a whooping 60% share of the Education market in the US. This is a huge leap from the 9% it had to itself in 2013. Still, it is believed that most of its users are pupils in grades K-12. 

PCs and Macbooks come with a host of features, but some of these features are hardly utilized by students in grades K-12 and can be a little distracting. Hence, they are usually disabled by many school districts. Most schools and governments would usually prefer to provide students only with devices that are solely designed for students and teachers. Generally, the recommended devices for this purpose are iPads and Chromebooks. 

Though essential for bridging the ‘digital divide’ and bringing underperforming schools up to the level already attained by ‘digital native’ children, iPads are not as easy to use as Chromebooks. Aside from not having a physical keyboard, they need trickier configuration tweaks for students to access their work and resources on any device they login with. In comparison, students can easily access their work, applications and settings when using Chromebooks. This is because their data and settings are synchronized with their personal Google logins.

The G-Suite Essential program on Chromebooks consists of collaborative tools like Google Classroom, Google Drive and several other Google applications. Using these tools, teachers and tutors can better direct school activities to suit the needs of each and every student. The Chrome browser and its extensions/add-ons also provides a new world of possibilities to students. Teachers who are hardly tech-savvy can take advantage of its user-friendliness to create a class blog or website, the students can follow and update themselves on various subjects like they would do using a textbook.

This accessibility is a plausible reason why about 25million students now use a Chromebook at school and an intimidating 80 million use G Suite for Education. The results of a survey undertaken by Education Week Research Center also resonates with this statement. 42% of the survey’s participants identified Chromebooks as their mode of instruction, a huge gulf from the 15% who picked PC laptops, 13% who singled out PC laptops and another who selected Apple iPads.

There are several Chromebooks in the market today, produced by reputable brands like Lenovo, Dell, Asus and a host of others. The most popular and widely used ones are Asus Chromebook Flip C434, Dell Inspiron 11 Chromebook and Lenovo 500e Chromebook 2nd gen, among others.  

Are Chromebooks Worth It?

More than just electronic devices in the hands of learners, Chromebooks can prove to be a tool of precision in capable hands. Here’s a look at some of the benefits users stand to gain from using them.

1.  Efficiency of Google Applications

As earlier highlighted, Chromebooks are special and are a fan favorite for many teachers  because of the presence of the Chrome operating system and the all-inclusiveness of its Google applications. These tools help to relieve the stress of catering uniquely to the needs of every student in the classroom. One such feature is the Google Docs application. Using this Word Processing document, students can better collaborate on a project, accessing and editing these files on the go.

2.  Security

Even with inbuilt firewall and web filtering features in place, protecting regular laptops and tablets can be really difficult. Chromebooks were designed using technology that is particularly resistant to malware attacks. Each tab on the chromebook browser is considered an independent process. Hence, all applications and web pages operate in an isolated space. Should there be a malware attack on an application, this attack is limited to the application space alone and would not infiltrate other applications or the operating system. In summary, all user profiles, applications, identities and OS itself are sandboxed from one another.

A verified boot process and layers of data encryption also improves the integrity of the device’s security.

3.  Easy to use

One of the most appealing characteristics of Chromebooks is that they are pretty easy to use, even for first-time users. Indeed, they take a lot of complications away from internet education and computer learning.

The following are just some of what contributes to their ease of use

  • Large cloud storage, so that multiple students can use the same Chromebook, yet, get unique learning experiences.
  • They are not as prone to computer malware and viruses. Hence, they are easy to maintain. 
  • Quick bootup times and easy connectivity to wireless connections.
  • Long-lasting battery life. This reduces the interruptions in classes and charging times.

4.  Affordable Tech Tools

One of the most notable things about Chromebooks is that they are a lot cheaper than PC laptops, desktops and Apple MacBooks. This makes them the go-to alternatives as far as mobile learning initiatives are concerned. Though more budget-friendly, they compete favorably with the others in engaging students with tonnes of collaborative tools they can use for work and play.

5. Low cost of maintenance

For Chromebooks, there is no licensing fee needed to keep the Google apps or OS updated. Unlike other proprietary platforms where the licensing fee increases with the number of devices or users connected on them, this is totally free. At no cost, both students and teachers have access to the full potential of G Suite.

6. Creates a level playing field for all students 

Chromebooks to a large extent, help bridge the gap between digital learning in urban areas and what is prevalent in low-income areas in the country. Whether from city schools or suburban schools, students can now harness the wealth of information available on the internet. 

These devices were specially built for sharing, Using the Chromebook App Hub and all other tools within their reach, users in rural areas can access the same applications, settings and resources available to their peers in the urban areas.

7.  Personalized teaching

Chromebooks give the teachers the ability to tailor their approach to the needs and abilities of each and every child. Unlike the cookie-cutter approach that was the norm in many teaching climes, teachers can now create programs to help individual students through their unique challenges. 

8.  Storage  

A special feature of Chromebooks is that the users are able to back-up all essential files, videos, pictures and other media on a storage application called Google Drive. Google Drive is a cloud storage application that allows individuals with Google accounts to store documents and other media online, till they want to access them again.

Downsides to the use of Chromebooks

Technology is a tricky gift. While there are important benefits that can be derived employing its application, if not properly used, it can be a dangerous thing. Chromebooks are not spared from this narrative. Although it comes with a lot of benefits, there it still comes with a fair share of cons and drawbacks. Let’s see some of its downsides.

1. One of the greatest problems with Chromebooks is their storage space. Most of these devices come with about 16 to 32GB storage space. If you are not going to be hosting most of your files on the cloud, using a Chromebook can be a little challenging.

2. Chromebooks are not ideal for students who use software applications with huge processing power requirements. It also does not have as many ports as a regular laptop. It was designed for simple applications and education tools in mind.

These disadvantages can be solved or prevented. It will only take extra effort on the parts of all who are concerned including students, parents/guardians, teachers, school authorities, governments, and education policy makers. Adequate preparation for the use of the devices is needed. Parents and teachers also need to monitor how their wards handle these devices to limit their exposure to internet vices.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Chromebooks  

Unsurprisingly, many questions have been asked about the use of this tech that has quickly swept through the educational sector in the US and is steadily growing in other countries. Let’s take a look at these questions and provide an answer to each of them.

Can students recover their files should the device be lost or stolen?

Important materials should have been stored on the student’s Google drive. Files stored on a cloud storage like Google Drive are easily retrievable and can be accessed at any time and from any device. In summary, these files can still be recovered even if the student’s original device has been stolen as long as they still have access to their username and password.

How can Chromebooks be made available for students with little means?

Community response aids in the provision of these devices in areas that are lacking. In addition, corporate organizations raise trust funds and donations to raise money for the purchase of these devices. Ultimately government agencies in charge of education are saddled with the responsibility of solving these kinds of problems.  

What Chromebook(s) is the best to use in my School?

It is recommended that schools only go with devices of at least 4 GB of RAM, a moderate storage capacity, and good battery life. These specifications are essential for optimal efficiency.

How can students, teachers, and parents maintain these devices?

Chromebooks used for study should be kept safely and handled with care. Regular maintenance culture would involve cleaning the devices with a neat cloth preferably linen. Users should take care not to use chemicals to clean these devices. Regular updates from the makers would ensure the device stays optimal.

Will the students be able to use Chromebooks for other purposes?

No. Only pre-selected applications can be used on the computer system. Chromebooks have been designed to target educational needs and objectives specifically. Any other use will not be allowed by the operating system. This because using it for other purposes could defeat the purpose for which it was designed.

What Statistics show?

The frequency of use of Chromebooks has not gone unnoticed by the observers. There has been an upward surge in the use of electronic computing devices since the advent of Chromebooks and the future looks promising. In 2018 more than 60% of schools in the US gave their students laptops and tablets for learning. Observers say that by the end of 2020 more than 20 million of these devices will be distributed globally. The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic accounts for this because even when students can’t meet physically, a virtual classroom would be the next best thing. Thus, these devices come to play.

It is also observed that the use of Chromebooks has contributed to the passing rate and excellent results that students get. In some areas in the US students passing rates have improved from 75%-94% with the introduction of Chromebooks.   

Final Take

The introduction of Chromebooks has surely revolutionized the learning process. This article exposes us to why schools are switching to Chromebooks. There are several reasons why they are making this switch. The most important of these are its low cost of maintenance, ease of use and the device’s efficiency. With Chromebooks, students can better collaborate on different projects, take down notes, write assignments and prep properly for continuous assessment tests and exams. There’s so much to gain from using Chromebooks.

If you’ve used one in the past and would like to share your experiences or grievances with other people, feel free to do so in the comment section below.

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