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New technology platforms roll out at such a rapid rate that it can be overwhelming when picking a device that suits your child’s academic needs. When we made the decision to adjust to a 1-1 tech tool program, we knew that we needed to find the technology platform that would work best for our school environment at Hephatha Lutheran Church and School. The Chromebook provides Hephatha with the most benefits for what we are looking for in the classroom. Each device we researched had clear strengths and weaknesses, below is our review of the most common products used in schools:
Apple Mac Book/ iPad:
Apple technology platforms are a popular option in schools today. The Mac Book is a powerful device with many exciting programs available; also, it rarely suffers from the typical laptop security and Malware issues. However, the Mac Book is an expensive option with some programs that are not used in the day to day classroom activities.
The Apple iPad is an attractive and easy-to-use device that many schools have committed to using. There are numerous apps available that are helpful for the academic growth of students. They also provide wonderful programs that can be exciting to some in the classroom; however, after much research we felt it was seen as a toy, rather than a tool, at school. Our concern for the 1-1 setting is that we want our students to focus on learning, rather than on the device. We also had concerns over the fragile nature of the touch screen, which would be transported daily from home to school and back in a child’s backpack. The touch screen of an iPad has many benefits, but work can be hindered by cracks and other damage to the screen. The iPad also employs a digital screen, which can be difficult and hard to use. Lastly, the iPad is limited in its ability to run flash programs and cookies (small files used to identify you on a website) while online. We do agree that there can be some benefits to using the iPad in the lower elementary grades, and continue to evaluate the future use of them in those grades.
Windows powered laptops have many similar features and benefits of Mac Books, but have a more moderate price, initially. Additional software and virus protection, however, adds a more significant cost after ownership. It was also apparent that Netbooks are underpowered and poorly constructed, while laptops can get quite heavy for children to use all day. Moreover, the battery life of these devices, when fully charged, is about 5 hours. This would create some difficulties of making it throughout the school day without having to charge. Most importantly, the Windows-powered Netbooks and laptops do not provide the same type of security as Chromebooks. This is true on two levels: parental control, and security from Malware. Providing online security for students through teacher diligence and parental controls is a major factor for Hephatha.
The Chromebook is a relatively new, portable computing device similar to a laptop. Its popularity and use in our education system is growing at a rapid rate (a 50% increase in use this past year alone). What makes Chromebook different from other portable electronic devices is that it runs all of its application through a web browser. With the Chromebook, you run your applications and save your work through the cloud, not on the device itself. This enables you to access your work from any internet source, with the exception of an iPad. The Google drive system is run on the Chromebook. Google drive allows you to send emails, work on documents, create PowerPoints, edit graphics, use online apps and more, all in a Chrome browser.
Furthermore, students and teachers are able to link up their work through the Chromebook. By having all students on Chromebooks, teachers are able to link the computers so that they can have some form of access to the apps and internet websites used in class. The teachers are also able to monitor the students throughout the day, aiding in keeping students on task, as well as monitoring their Chromebook activity.
The Chromebook also met our security needs. It is our goal that, while using the many resources provided by the internet, we are still setting boundaries to keep our students away from some of the dangers of the internet. Chromebooks are manufactured in a way that allows parents to create and manage browser settings (similar to cable and satellite providers), so that students are not practicing in habits that are inappropriate. Click here for more on Google Parental Controls for Chromebooks.
The Chromebook is also safer than many other platforms: Windows, OS X, iOS, Linux, or Android. Chromebook does not allow software to be installed; this may be a little annoying, to an extent; however, the flip side is that all malicious email attachments cannot install a virus. The same can be true with malicious Flash ads on a webpage that is capable of infecting Windows or OS X operating systems. Chromebooks, on the other hand, are immune from such things, even though Flash is supported. The Chromebook was created with security in mind, and has it wired into every aspect of its design.
The Chromebook is also efficient and reliable. Chromebooks have several features that make for a more efficient product. The battery life of each device is 8 hours on average, as compared to 5 hours on laptops. They do not require system or program uploading. Troubleshooting and adjusting to unforeseen problems with media platforms are easier for the teachers to address with a consistent platform. It also has the advantage of taking just 8 seconds to reboot if a problem does occur, so that students will not fall behind the class if reboot is needed.
Thanks to Christ, Costa Mesa for sharing Chromebook information!