What is it? Chromebooks are a line of inexpensive laptops running Google’s Chrome browser and offering more traditional laptop functionality than a tablet. Due to their low cost (between $199 and $300), they have found their way into an increasing number of classrooms.
How does it work? Chromebooks rely heavily on Google’s suite of online apps. These include knockoffs of Microsoft’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint. An Internet connection is needed to use the device, though limited functionality is available without one. The devices don’t have a ton of on-board memory, but they are tied into cloud services, which means a student could use a different Chromebook or a home computer and still access his or her data.
How hard is it to use? These devices are designed for easy use. In general, anyone comfortable using a tablet or the Internet will be well on his/her way to using a Chromebook. The Google apps are a little clunkier than Microsoft Office, especially when it comes to printing, but they are not hard to use.
How well does it work? The device comes pre-loaded with links to Google’s online services. Other apps can be downloaded, much as you would on a tablet. Chromebooks are not full laptops, but they have Internet browsing capability and can do most of the things a teacher would want a computer to do in a classroom. They are also lightweight and relatively durable.
How do I use it in the classroom? The Chromebook combines the benefits of a tablet and a laptop. You get Internet capabilities and a full keyboard, which for the purpose of writing, makes the device a lot more practical than using a tablet.
Read about other products featured in the Tech in the Classroom series.
Tech in the Classroom is a recurring feature that examines widely available technology, software and gadgets and how they might be used in a school setting.
Article by Daniel Kline, EducationWorld Contributing Editor
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