Google Apps for Education offers many benefits of Google Apps for Business, but at no cost to schools, universities and qualifying non-profits. We’ve posted about Google Apps in the Classroom, Free Resources for Learning to Use Google Apps in Digital Classrooms and and Google Plus Comes to a Classroom Near You. There is no doubt that Google has always been working hard to serve the needs in education, and their tools are used and recommended by many teachers. In the transition into 1-to-1 classrooms, there are different approaches to implement student’s devices. iPads are winning a lot of opportunitites in piloting programs worldwide, but certainly there are different voices, like this : Can I Trade the iPads for Chromebooks?, and Google’s Chromebook Plan Could Be the Answer to Updating Outdated Schools. This blog post is from our guest blogger Sharon Shapiro.
Chromebooks were released by Google in May 2011 as the first computers to run fully in the Google Chrome web browser. Chromebook users experience increased productivity and decreased IT costs, making these computers useful to a wide variety of people. In particular, Google realized the advantages of these Chromebooks to schools and has created Chromebooks for Education.
Schools looking to adopt Chromebooks have the option of the two available Chromebook models – Samsung or Acer – both of which function the same.
From the moment students press the power button on a Chromebook, it is connected to the internet (through Wi-Fi or optional 3G service) in a matter of eight seconds. And once these computers are powered on when the bell rings to start the day, their batteries are designed to last until the students pour out of the classrooms in the afternoon. This quick start-up and long lasting battery means there is more time for the students to focus on the lessons of the day and less time to be distracted.
While using Chromebooks for Education, students and teachers alike can easily access educational tools on the web. Users can simply sign in with a Google Apps for Education account, and the cloud is at their fingertips. Chromebooks were designed to make accessing the internet easier than ever, and this ease, combined with the communication and collaboration tools of the Google Apps suite, should have a prominent spot in any classroom. Students and teachers can access applications beyond the Google Apps suite through the Chrome Web Store and the Google Apps Marketplace.
Because Chromebooks have a lightweight design and can connect to any Wi-Fi network, students can easily continue working on Chromebooks beyond the classroom. And Chromebooks can also be shared among students, as all information is stored in the cloud and not on the Chromebook, itself. Anyone can use a Chromebook and access their personal information by simply signing in with a Google account.
In addition to the benefits to students, Chromebooks are also advantageous for administrators. System administrators of a school’s Chromebooks can use the universal administrative functions to add or remove applications and update browsing restrictions on all of the Chromebooks at once.
Schools also stand to benefit from the security features of Chromebooks, which are unlike those on other computers. Chromebooks employ layers of defense to protect themselves against malware and viruses. “Sandboxing” is a defense tool that means each tab opened runs in an isolated environment, or sandbox, so that any potential virus is contained within the tab. Verified Boot is another security feature that serves as a backup to the sandbox. The Verified Boot is a an automatic check that runs every time a Chromebook is started up. This check will identify and fix any viruses that may have found their way onto the Chromebook.
Another advantage of Chromebooks for Education is the way they age. Every time a user turns on a Chromebook, the computer receives an automatic update for its operating system and all applications. This update guarantees that the Chromebook won’t become outdated.
Given the countless benefits Chromebooks have to offer schools, many are wary of what it will cost them. But the price of these computers is yet another advantage. Because all the work done on Chromebooks is stored in the cloud and because Chromebooks receive automatic updates, schools who use them will no longer need to put time and money toward system backups and security updates. This significantly cuts down on IT costs.
Schools can purchase Chromebooks for Education for $20/Chromebook/month. This price includes the operating system, cloud management and storage, automatic updates, and full customer support from Google. And the Chromebooks for Education program makes a new set of Chromebooks available every three years for free to schools already using them. Schools can also keep their old Chromebooks if they choose, but will lose the cloud management and Google support on these devices.
The fact that Chromebooks don’t require additional software and IT licenses, physical servers, maintenance services, and updates mean that the cost of ownership can be up to 70% less than that of a traditional computer.
Chromebooks are increasingly present in classrooms all over the world. These computers are preferable to other technologies, like iPads, for a number of reasons. First, they integrate perfectly with the free Google Apps for Education platform. With Chromebooks and Google Apps used hand-in-hand, teachers and students can collaborate with one another in real time, no matter where they are. Using these two technologies together also improves the communication among students and between students and teachers, enabling teachers to easily contact students and comment on their work all within the Google Apps suite. Additionally, given the automatic updates and full customer support from Google that come with Chromebooks, schools that use these computers do not have to worry about falling behind on technology like schools that use iPads do. Finally, because Chromebooks are completely cloud-based computers, they run without a hard drive, so no information is stored on the Chromebook itself. This fact means that if students take home their Chromebooks at the end of the school day, the school and the students do not have to worry about losing information in the case that the computer is stolen or physically damaged. On the other hand, schools that provide their students with iPads run a much greater risk of losing information when they send the tablets home with students, as information is stored on these devices rather than in the cloud.
With unprecedented educational and technological advantages and unheard of savings, Chromebooks are the perfect tool for education.
This blog post is brought to you by Cloud Sherpas. Cloud Sherpas is a leading Google Apps cloud service provider. As aGoogle Apps Authorized Reseller and Google Enterprise partner, we have migrated over one million users across all major industries from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps, helping organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses. Get to know our company by checking out our Google+ page atcloudsherpas.com/plus.
Photo By andysternberg, licensed under Creative Commons : Some rights reserved