Chromebooks have become a popular choice for 1:1 programs across the U.S. In fact, 30 million students and educators used Chromebooks in 2019 alone. Their popularity continues to surge as more schools rely on their hybrid instruction. There are a host of benefits of Chromebooks in the classroom, but what are the overall pros and cons of a Chromebook?
Pros of a Chromebook
They’re sleek, lightweight, and fast. But there’s so much more to a Chromebook.
Secure & Fast
Chromebooks are extremely secure and fast due to regular auto updates devices receive until their Auto Update Expiration (AUE). This means your Chromebook will receive software updates, vital security patches, and technical support for six-a-half to eight-and-a-half years depending on AUE.
Low Price & Low Lifetime Cost
One of the best things about Chromebooks is the price tag. It simply can’t be beat. More expensive Chromebooks do exist, but you can still find a solid Chromebook for under $300—considerably less than their laptop counterpart. This is a significant factor for any school’s yearly budget.
Additionally, the lifetime cost of a Chromebook is low because Chromebooks don’t have the traditional moving parts that a laptop does. This means less mechanical malfunction and less need for repair, saving your district in the long term.
Integrated Virus Protection
Not only are Chromebooks less vulnerable to viruses, but their antivirus/malware protection is built into the Chrome OS. This is an additional cost savings, not to mention the time it saves your IT team in troubleshooting.
Since Chromebooks do not rely on software, there is no need for your IT team to install, update, support, or troubleshoot software. Updates are automatic via Google and a 24/7 helpdesk is available to Google Workspace subscribers. This unburdens your IT department and frees them to handle more pressing matters.
Collaborative & Built for Productivity
Chromebooks encourage collaboration, which is fantastic for both teachers and students. Chromebooks use Google Workspace, Google’s answer to Microsoft 365, and docs can be edited in real time by multiple users.
Chromebooks also rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts. Once learned, they are sure to boost productivity.
Additionally, there are few frivolous distractions on a Chromebook, as compared to a laptop, which encourages students’ productivity. Of course, we aren’t ruling out the fact that the internet can be a huge distraction, but we’ll let you decide how to monitor and restrict access to certain websites.
Mobile & Shareable
If the past year is any indication, a Chromebook’s mobility is a particularly compelling feature. They are very easy to transport since they are lightweight. If students need to bring their devices home, it’s easy to do so.
They’re also easy to share, making them ideal for schools that are working toward a 1:1 program. Chromebooks require a Google account for every user. Since Chromebooks rely on cloud-based storage, files are easily accessed via your personal login. When sharing, all students need to do is sign into their own account for a personal learning experience.
Cons of a Chromebook
As with any laptop or notebook, there are certain cons associated with a Chromebook.
No Microsoft 365*
For Chromebooks launched prior to 2019, Microsoft 365 cannot be installed. Instead, your teachers and students will use the Google Workspace which features Google Doc (Word), Google Sheets (Excel), and Google Sheets (PowerPoint), among other correlating applications.
This means there is an associated learning curve with this set of applications. Even though they are remarkably similar to Microsoft counterparts, there are still differences in commands and functionality. This could be less of an issue for younger generation of students as they have less familiarity with Microsoft apps. This could be more of an issue for teachers and older students as they transition to Google Workspace from Microsoft.
The good news is that files from all Google Workspace applications can be downloaded as their Microsoft counterpart, which proves helpful.
*However, Chromebook with a launch date after 2019 support apps designed for Android mobile use. This means Microsoft 365 is available via Google Play for Chrome. Check this list to ensure your Chromebook model supports this feature.
Limited Functionality Offline
With teachers reporting that 12% of students have no access to the internet at home, this could be huge factor depending on your district. Because most work occurs in browser-based applications, collaborative, real-time exercises will require an internet connection. If they don’t have internet access, this could impact you’re their experience.
Working offline with a Chromebook is not impossible, it just requires planning. There is still a workaround for this. Many apps feature offline settings, which need to be turned on. Students can edit docs offline, and when they are online again, edits will be synced.
Not Ideal for Multimedia Projects
Currently, the best software and applications for audio and video projects are not web based. There are plenty of web-based video editors and other applications that can provide a solid workaround.
This most likely is not a contributing factor for most districts, but could affect older students in journalism and broadcasting, music, or theater programs.
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