10 reasons why I pick Chromebooks for 1:1

Ed Tech

Ed Tech | Thursday, April 17, 2014

10 reasons why I pick Chromebooks for 1:1

10 reasons why I pick Chromebooks for 1:1

iPads, laptops, Nexus tablets and other devices have their strengths. But if pressed for one device for my classroom, I pick Chromebooks. Here’s why. (Flickr / flyshoe)

I know that I’m wandering into contentious waters when picking sides for the 1:1 debate.

Some love their iPads. Others insist on MacBooks. Or Windows laptops or Nexus tablets or any other device.

My school district is headed down the 1:1 path, and my students and I have gotten to check out several devices.

If I had to pick one, my choice is the Chromebook.

(I know there have been countless blog posts written about why one device is best for a 1:1 environment. Let’s file it among the masses as just another vote.)

Disclaimer: I’m a high school Spanish teacher. My students create using Google Apps almost every day. They blog. We do a lot of accessing various websites. We do create video and photos some, but not often. And my district is not social media-friendly, so Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, Instagram, etc. are not an issue.

bammy award banner for DTTThat said, here are my reasons for backing the Chromebook:

1. The start-up time. Google claims that a Chromebook will load up in less than 10 seconds, and in my experience, that’s right. My students have worked with older desktop computers for the last few years, and they’re usually ready to go after a non-computer-related warm-up activity. This is an important point for me.

2. The touchpad. I love all of the multi-finger gestures the Chromebook has to offer (i.e. two-finger swipe to scroll, three-finger side swipe to switch tabs, etc.).

3. The size and weight. It’s slim, and although it’s larger than an iPad, it will easily slip into a bag or backpack without commanding too much space. It’s easy to manipulate on the go, too.

4. The keyboard. A full keyboard is one of the most important aspects for my classes because we do so much writing. Even though many kids are so adept at handling a touchscreen keyboard, writing more than a few sentences at a time is slow and taxing.

5. The Google Apps compatibility. Links are built right in. The device is made to run Google Apps. For any school that has implemented Google Apps for Education and is bought in to the system, Chromebooks are probably a great fit.

6. The price. Chromebooks are available new for around $200. Refurbished ones can cost less than that. A classroom set of 30 at that price would start around $6,000.

7. The USB access. Students can connect a USB mouse to a Chromebook if they need more control. They can easily download photos off a digital camera. It opens up so much functionality.

8. The HDMI port. As this high-definition video output becomes more and more available, having that option to display or present will become more and more important.

9. The battery life. The Samsung Chromebook boasts 6.5 hours of battery life. That, in an ideal world, takes care of my students from the beginning of school at 8:15 a.m. to the end of school at 3:15 p.m. with a half-hour break for lunch. (In the real world, they will probably need a charge at some point, but that’s a decent amount of time without being tethered to a charger cord.)

10. The screen. The colors and detail, in my opinion, are sharp. The screen makes reading easy.

That’s the conclusion I’ve come to from my own perspective: someone who has tried out several devices for months but has not become an expert yet on any of them. However, for my purposes, and judging by the reactions of my students as they test different devices, the Chromebook seems to fit the bill.

There are other perspectives. In fact, Jennifer Scott’s is a great one.

She says to pick them all.

Her classroom has Chromebooks (40), Windows desktop computers (8) and iPads (2). And that’s on purpose.

“Each device has a purpose,” she tweeted. “Students need to know when one device is more effective than another for a given task.”

Scott claims these advantages for each device:

  • Desktop computers: graphic design
  • iPad: quick communication with students and colleagues
  • Chromebooks: blogging and collaboration

She has even mixed in an iPhone to provide as many device options to her students as possible.

Scott’s philosophy: “If students must know different purposes and combinations of informational/argumentative/narrative writing, why not the same for tech?”

I think Jennifer has opened my mind. If I had to pick one device right now, it would be the Chromebook. But if I could pick several devices like she did, I would like that option better.

What are your thoughts? Do you favor one particular device, or do you want students to have options? What are your must-have features in a 1:1 device? Leave your ideas in a comment (even if it’s a one-word comment stating your preference!).

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  • Andrew says:

    Interesting post! Just wanted to let you know that we referenced your article on our blog: http://www.chromebook.net/classroom-ipads-to-chromebooks.htm

  • Tom says:

    Your post brings up a lot of really great points. But to me the only one that sticks out the most is price. All of the other points are mute in my opinion since you can do each of the others on any computer. To compare an iPad or any other tablet device really isn’t fair. Looking forward to seeing you at Summer Spark!

  • Patty says:

    I agree with Chromebooks fitting the needs of our classrooms. I would add to your list the huge benefit of ease of implementation and maintaining them. I work in a rural district, and spend almost no time maintaining the 4 classroom sets of Chromebooks. The PC’s in the building, on the other hand, are a completely different story. Having the Chrome OS wiping out a virus or whatever a young student may inadvertently put on it automatically is a huge time saver, not to mention not avoiding money spent on software designed to keep the Windows system working as intended.

  • Angie M says:

    We went iPad minis and chrome books for the very reasons Jennifer listed. It is pretty close to best of both worlds.

    • Matt Miller says:

      That sounds like a good mixture of the two! I really like the video/photo creation aspect of iPads and the apps, but I really like Google integration, the keyboard and the speed of the Chromebooks. In the end, if I had to pick one, it would be Chromebooks, but it sounds like you do have as close to the best of both worlds as possible!

  • Jennifer Tait says:

    Matt, I am so excited that your school is headed down the 1:1 pathway; glad you will be joining my school. We are just concluding our first year as a 1:1 school and I have to say that I have loved every minute of it. We chose MacBook Air as our choice. I am not going to disagree with or argue about which machine is the best, but what I will say is that I am thankful that our school went with a computer over a tablet.

    Being in the Business Dept. I had the privilege and luxury of teaching in a computer lab for many years and was already paperless and had ditched my textbook (well, in fact, I have never taught with a textbook!) before this year. When we first started talking 1:1 three to four years ago we were asked what type of computer we preferred and then tablets came on the scene and then we started looking at which type of machine we would go to. It was decided that as a high school we wanted our students to be able to “produce” products so we knew that computers were where we wanted to head.

    I have talked to so many teachers and school personnel who went with tablets and I think to myself, “how would I have taught my class using a tablet instead of a computer?” I don’t think it would have been that much different from teaching with a textbook, etc.

    So those are my musings.


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