There is absolutely no question that today’s kids need a strong foundation in the digital world. Basic computer literacy is no longer optional in our society, and education industry leaders have recently launched an initiative to treat coding as a foreign language, taught alongside Spanish or French.
However, as any teacher or other education worker can attest, finding the right computers or devices for kids to learn is a challenge. The education environment poses a number of challenges to the IT procurer, some unique to the industry.
The primary concern, as ever, is budget. Many schools simply do not have the funds to purchase dozens or hundreds of expensive, high-end devices like iPads, and certainly do not have enough to update them regularly.
Devices need to come at a good price, and they need to last for years in an environment where they may pass through the hands of multiple students each day. Students aren’t always known to take the best care of their equipment, and so the more durable a device, the better.
There are other problems, as well. Students, especially younger ones, typically don’t have the ability to update their machines or troubleshoot issues, and teachers simply don’t have the time. Schools very rarely maintain an in-house IT department, so it is the district central office or, more often, an outsourced IT firm that takes responsibility for keeping systems running safely and reliably.
Standardization and centralized management are therefore vital to successful device deployment in a school setting. The remote office needs full control over access policies, application installation, and security. These features are common to the corporate environment, but are not as often thought of in education.
The Google Chromebook is a perfect answer for each of these needs, and the education industry has noticed. In Q3 2015, Chromebooks had a 51% market share in the education device market, surpassing iPads and even Windows PCs.
Benefits of Chromebooks for Education
So how is the Chromebook such a good fit for education?
- Price: At a price point of $200-$300, or even as low as $150, Chromebooks are inexpensive enough to purchase in bulk. An entire classroom can be outfitted with a Chromebook at every desk at a fraction of the cost of iPads or less-capable Android tablets. Chromebooks come with free access to Google Apps, including the Office-like Docs and Sheets apps for word processing and spreadsheets, respectively. Google also offers paid subscriptions to Google for Education, which includes a great deal of enhancements and features specific to the classroom.
- User Access Independent of Device: Chromebooks are largely cloud-based, storing only a minimum of data on the device itself. ChromeOS and the Google for Education software suite allow for a personalized experience based on the user sign-in, no matter which specific Chromebook the user happens to have in front of them. In this way, devices can belong to desks in the classroom rather than being assigned to individual students, cutting down on the need to replace lost devices. When it is necessary to replace a device, the process is quick and easy since Chromebooks belonging to the organization are essentially interchangeable.
- Central Management: Personnel responsible for management of the Chromebook network have a bevy of tools at their disposal to ensure a smooth and secure experience for both students and faculty. Google for Education includes the ability to create user groups with varying permissions and access to different apps and Internet locations. Devices belonging to specific classrooms, grade levels, or even individual students can be permitted or denied access to websites or apps.
- Android Apps: In April, Google let slip that Chromebooks will soon be able to run Android apps. This is major news, since the Google Play Store offers over one million apps. The change opens up the possibility for Chromebooks to match much more expensive Android tablets in terms of software selection.
- Support: Finally, Chromebooks are supported directly by Google as well as by the vendor. Google offers 24/7 support by phone or email, as well as a very extensive knowledge base for self-help.
Although Chromebooks are a relatively new product, they have quickly established themselves as a solid and reliable choice. Their price point, simplicity, robust software capabilities, and centralized management position them as a way for schools to take advantage of a corporate-style IT infrastructure, without a corporate-sized IT staff and budget.
What’s more is that as a Google partner, iWise Consulting can fit you with the best overall Chromebook solution and even special pricing. Contact us today!