This information is intended to help decision-makers in schools decide whether Chromebooks will be a suitable device for their situation and if so, what to think about when making a purchasing decision.
Chromebooks are relatively low-priced laptops, which are designed to be used mostly while connected to the Internet. They require the user to have a Google Account to be able to log in or can be used by anybody with a Guest login. This account is usually provided as part of the school’s G Suite for Education set-up.
Chromebooks enable students to gain ready access to the internet and the majority of things that can be done using the Chrome internet browser. They integrate particularly well with the Google Apps suite of learning tools, but can also be used successfully for most other web-based services and activities.
A good way to find out whether Chromebooks are a suitable fit for your needs, is to purchase or borrow one and discover what is involved in getting it set up and how it performs in everyday use by students.
Chromebooks are laptops with the usual things that you’d expect from a laptop like a keyboard, trackpad, webcam, and connections for USB devices or monitors. They run a very limited operating system that is like only having the Chrome Browser available instead of the usual range of software applications that Windows and Mac devices run. Chromebooks have limited computing capabilities and file storage as most of this is done in the cloud rather than on the computer. This means that they can be made with cheaper components and enjoy longer battery life than most other laptops.
As devices, Chromebook’s key benefits include:
A Chromebook receives automatic updates that improve and enhance the device and its operating system so they should be faster to start up and operate as they get older. Like any device, though, advances in hardware and technology eventually do make them out-of-date.
Chromebooks are designed to predominantly be used online but can be set up for offline access to the key apps such as Drive, Docs, and Gmail, Contacts and Calendar.
From 2017, some Chromebooks have begun to support running Android apps. See Android Apps on Chrome FAQ’s .
Chromebooks are made by a number of manufacturers. This Chromebooks Specs website may be useful to provide a list of what is available globally along with their specifications. Not all these models will be available in New Zealand, though.
Before considering the devices themselves, it is essential that you have some ideas on how the devices might be used to support specific learning outcomes or your vision for learning. For example, you could consider how important the following aspects are for you:
Once you are clear on the intended purposes of the Chromebook to support learning, there are other considerations that could to be factored in. Not all considerations will be relevant for your situation, of course.
The considerations needed for Chromebooks that are owned by the school and shared in classes with students are different to those for Chromebooks that students themselves will own and take to and from school. The requirements in a primary school may be different to those in a secondary school.
In general, Chromebooks are straightforward to deploy and manage. That said, consider what expertise and time is required to set up and deploy the Chromebooks, who will do this, and how much this might cost. Check that your network and Wifi setup works okay for your Chromebooks.
By default, at no cost, the Google Admin Console (a website that the school’s administrators can access to manage the G Suite domain for the school) enables the management of the user’s experience such as:
In order to manage the Devices themselves, the school will need to deploy a Chrome Education Licence for each device. Since November 2018 the Ministry of Education has funded Chrome Education Licenses for school-owned and BYOD Chromebooks. See the Google software for schools page for more information.
Among other things, the Chrome Education Licence allows an administrator to:
For a list of all the settings that the Chrome Education License enables, visit the Manage Device Settings Google Support page .
For student-owned devices it is possible to use the off-hours policy setting to ensure that school-based settings are not applied between, say, 3.00 pm – 8.00 am on weekdays.
In general, if you are considering purchasing a reasonable number of Chromebooks, then we recommend you do also deploy the Chrome Education License.
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