Catholic prep school St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida is one of more than 2000 schools to adopt Chromebooks for education according to Jaime Casap, Google‘s Global Education Evangelist. That number represents a healthy 100% growth spurt during the past 3 months.
In January 2012 Florida was among the first school districts to move their curriculum to the web, and in turn adopt Chromebooks as a teaching tool. Last week during FETC 2013 — Florida’s annual Technology in Education Conference — educators explained that this shift had a positive impact with three important advantages: “enabling tech support internships, allowing homebound students to collaborate remotely, and teaching students to become digital leaders.”
Why are Chromebooks penetrating school systems at this brisk pace? Price is one motivator. With 5 Chromebook models currently available including Acer’s bargain $199 C7, there are viable options for any budget. Google estimates that schools can save an average $4000 per deployed device over three years of ownership. This is partially attributed to lower IT department expenses, as Chrome OS is seamlessly and automatically updated. Web-based management consoles reduce the time it takes admins to deploy changes to users and apps across multiple classrooms.
Perhaps the most appealing draw is the security of Chromebooks. When Chromebooks boot up they perform a self-check to ensure no tampering has occurred, and there’s no need for spyware or anti-virus tools. Google’s Chrome OS relies on the company’s existing suite of cloud-based services like Gmail and Google Docs, in addition to many educational apps in the Chrome Web Store. None of these need to be traditionally “installed” and since they don’t run locally, Chromebooks can boot up in under 10 seconds thanks to the lightweight OS.
Add in 100GB of cloud storage on Google Drive, and the advantages begin to outweigh those of PCs and even iPads.
Chromebooks aren’t just excelling in schools, either. Acer‘s CEO recently revealed that they’ve sold more Chromebooks than Windows 8 devices in the U.S., and now Lenovo is applying their durable ThinkPad branding to a new Chromebook model which gets deployed exclusively to institutions later this month.
Are Chromebooks a threat in the consumer market? Not yet, but their budget pricing, growth in the education system, and ease of use will cause a notable uptick in mindshare and word of mouth in years to come.