Google Chrome for Education – tools designed to engage with students, anytime and anywhere, on any device – is establishing itself as the next big thing in the evolving marriage of education and technology. One might argue that the union was inevitable; developers were engaged as soon as they witnessed the first generation of children who went from bottle to iPad.
Clearly, if educators want to teach this generation, then technology has to be deep in the mix. Thus, Google launched its suite of tools.
Let’s start with Google Classroom. Billed as “mission control” for teachers and students, this tool helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and easily communicate with students in their classes. And it’s all paperless, residing in the cloud. Right now, approximately 10 million students and teachers around the world are using Google Classroom through Google Apps for Education, a suite of free and unlimited productivity tools for students and teachers. Besides Classroom, the suite includes Gmail, Docs (Google’s office suite including word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps), Calendar and much more. These are offered free to schools, and feature 24/7 support, which includes automatic software updates and patching, also at no cost.
But what’s the most efficient way to use Google Chrome for Education? With a Chromebook, a laptop of a different breed. Instead of Windows 10 or Mac OS X, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, and are the most effective way to interface with Classroom, or any of the other Google tools.
These machines start at only $149 and are available from more than 21 different manufacturers, further incentivizing schools to make them available to students. Besides being affordable, the devices are easy to manage, allowing schools to set them up in minutes and centrally manage 100 or 10,000 of them. Schools can roll them out one to one, or students can share them and – because it’s cloud-based – each student will still have a personal experience just by signing in to his own account.
Besides the cost of hardware (which can be passed on or shared with students’ families), schools musts purchase a Chromebook management license for $30 per device. This license gives the school access to the web-based management console, which allows administrators to create user groups, install and block apps, configure network access, and customize user features.