19 Mar Chromebooks Rival iPads in School 1:1 Programs
The Apple iPad’s reign as the indisputable champion of educational technology deployments is being challenged by a newbie device once mocked as a hopeless underdog: the Google Chromebook. Google’s young operating system entered the market in mid-2011 amidst a cloud of skepticism from the tech community, which viewed the Web-based device as little more than an app manager. By 2013, the Chromebook surge contributed to 21 percent of computer sales, and the following year, the device outsold iPads in schools by about 13,000 units.
Hoping to avoid the domino effect of the iPad trend, school administrators are cautiously weighing the benefits of Chromebooks before investing valuable city funds and educational grants. Many schools are running small-scale pilots or testing multiple devices at once. So, how is this freshman technology stamping out the critics?
Whether a school has one cart of Chromebooks or hundreds of devices, managing them is a painless process, says Joel Handler, the Director of Technology for Hillsborough Public Schools in New Jersey. Since all data is stored in the cloud, the technology department can make software updates remotely, and students can access their work from another Chromebook if their original device breaks or malfunctions.
Educators also cite the low upfront cost as a selling factor. The least expensive Chromebooks start around $199, and the simple, centralized management means schools aren’t tasked with paying for additional IT staff. But Handler pinpointed the Chromebook’s core value as a device that puts students in a working mindset, compared to the recreational gaming feel of the iPad. The Chromebook’s keyboard setup and productivity-oriented Google suite capture the experience of working on a laptop in a professional environment. And after all, educators say preparing students for life after school is what technology initiatives are all about.