Friday, June 3, 2011

Google's Chromebook Plan Could Be the Answer to Updating Outdated Schools

It wasn't the device that excited me when I wrote Move Over iPad! Google Chrome Notebooks are Going to Be the Game Changer in Education. Instead it was the the way in which they were selling it to schools. The reality that I've witnessed as I've watched and supported one-to-one laptop rollouts in schools is that in many cases there are issues with internet access and device repair.  Unless devices can be counted on to work all the time and instantly replaced if they don't, hopes for such programs often dissipate quickly. 

If done right, the rumored plan could solve some major problems with how we use technology for learning in schools including:
1) Internet access at school
2) Internet access at home
3) Equipment repair and replacement
4) Imaging and reimaging
5) A way to purchase more devices with yearly school funding allocations
6) Students won't lose their work

This is because they are talking about selling schools subscriptions to their devices that includes instant replacement when necessary and 3G access on each device.  The plan isn't perfect, but it's changing the paradigm which is exactly what is necessary if we truly want to update outdated schools.

To better understand what the device had to offer, I turned to Steve Kinney on Twitter who shared his review of the device here and here as well as a follow-up that explained more about the 3G plan. Here are highlights.

Purchase Plan
  • Consumers:  The price is expected to be on par with other notebook/netbook devices going for around $250. 
  • School Enterprise:  Google will rent you a Chromebook for roughly $30 per month for businesses, but is expected to charge about $20 per month for schools when signing on for a three-year commitment. That totals to about $720 over the course of the contract and the laptop is owned by the school (or student depending on how this is set up) at the end of it. Depending on how you budget shakes out and how much you’re currently paying for a support infrastructure, that may or may not make fiscal sense for a school or district.
3G Access Plan
The 3G-equipped Chromebooks come with 100MB of mobile internet provided by Verizon Wireless for about $3 more per month according to Engadget.100MB isn’t a lot and certainly isn’t enough to allow you to get rid of your wireless network, but it’s not bad either for $3 a month. 

What 100MB Could Get You
Kinney advises that 100MB is pretty meager, but has some ideas around how this could be beneficial. 
  • With 3G-access, you could take a dozen Chromebooks with you on a field trip and create interactive and collaborative activities for your students. You’d have plenty of data for occasional visits to the school garden.
  • It might serve as a leveler for students without Internet access at home. 
  • It could fill in at wired schools when there are connectivity issues.
Device Imaging
There is little to no setup and no loading on an image with all of the necessary software and settings baked in. Connect it to wifi, log in with your Google account and you’re back in action. Kinney notes this is a tremendous advantage as with high-end computers, a colossal amount of time can be wasted wiping out hard drives and reloading images from external hard drives.

Never Losing Your Work
Because these devices are cloud based, you never have to hear stories of work being lost or as Kinney explains, “but I saved my work on that computer and now Sally is using it.” As long as you’re logged in with your Google account, you’re ready to rock and roll on any device.

For lots of other insights and details, check out Steve's original posts here, here, and here


  1. When are we all going to get on the same page that transforming education is not about the technology???

  2. @Walter, the name of this post isn't "Device Will Transform Schools" it is "Plan Could Update Outdated Schools."

    I agree that transformation isn't about technology, but I need access to the modern tools of the world to be prepared and successful in the world.

  3. But the tools keep changing. What is the efficacy of this one over any other?

  4. @Walter, I don't think it's the "device/tool" that matters. What is updated about this is the "plan" that unlike others acknowledges that the device is just a container to access the ever-changing cloud.

  5. Lisa and Walter, good statements, but I don't think it's about the branding whether Google or Apple, don't we want to celebrate the change in thinking and how it's extending the classroom and learning.

  6. To me the tool is really the internet. The chromebook forces users to use the internet. If a student does work on a Chromebook at school, they can continue to work outside of school. Just have to find a device with the internet. This will be more important as schools adapt a BYOD program.

    This is not the case if they are using an app on an IPad. They would have to find another iPad with the app and that's if the app allowed data to sync to other devices.

    I think the Chromebooks will lead to change in thinking.

  7. You raise interesting points about the benefits of Chromebooks for education. Google Docs and Apps are definitely useful tools for schools. However some institutions will still require access to Windows applications. In order to extend the benefits of Chromebooks by providing quick and easy access to these Windows applications and also to virtual desktops, HTML5 browser-based access is necessary. Ericom AccessNow provides this support and enables Chromebook users to connect to Terminal
    Servers, physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run Windows applications and desktops within a browser window, without having to install anything on the user device.

    Ericom also offers special pricing for education customers.

    For more info, and to download a demo, visit:

    Note: I work for Ericom