Sunday, April 19, 2015

10 Reasons Why I think our next device should be a Chromebox

So the more I have become invested in Google Apps & Chrome OS, I feel confident in saying that I think that the next device our school buys the teachers be Chromeboxes.  Here is my list of reasons why.  Most of these are facts.  I hate lists that operate on opinions and feelings.

1. The first and most obvious reason is the cost. A full Chromebox with mouse & keyboard with 4gb of Ram is only $215. You can add a 17-19 inch monitor for about $100 more.  So you would be looking at a full desktop for under $350. Our current laptop is an HP Probook.  The updated version starts at $660.  So as you can see you would be getting 2 Chromebox systems for every HP Laptop.  Plus the keyboards have a numeric pad.  Teachers need to input numbers quickly for grades and the keyboard on a laptop isn't made for that.

2. A Chromebox has less chance of breaking.  Let's face it, in any laptop you have a lot of parts that can fail.  Keyboard, track pad, or monitor.  More than a few teachers have had to hook up an external monitor to their laptop because the wiring wore out from opening and closing the laptop lid.  So much that it caused the screen on the laptop to not show at all.  With a desktop you have the computer.  Keyboard, mouse, & monitor are all separate.

3.  One of the reasons we went to a laptop after years of desktops was because if we had a meeting that required us to have a computer, we could bring our laptop.  Our school has close to (if not more than) 500 Chromebooks on our campus.  If we needed a device for a meeting, the administrators could bring a cart to the meeting and just have us sign into the Chromebook & everything would be there. Chrome OS would allow us to take all of our settings, extensions, and files where ever we go.

4. Chrome OS is faster than Windows. Time is important to teachers.  When we have to look up grades or search for a file we want to do it now.  We don't want to open the browser and wait 2 minutes for it to open, then wait even longer to go to the site. Chrome starts in 8 seconds from completely powered off. Ever search for a file in Windows? Takes a long time, in Chrome OS it takes seconds.

5. Chrome OS is more secure than Windows. Since everything is sandboxed in the browser, it is nearly impossible to get any kind of virus or malware on the machine. I have cleared off tons of malware programs from teachers computers this year.  Google has offered millions to hackers to do just that & so far, nothing.  If something does get on the machine, doubtful, you can also factory reset it with Powerwash and be back up in running in minutes. Try reformatting/reimaging a pc and see how long that takes.

6. Google Apps for Education. True we have access to GAFE now, but most teachers don't use them.  It would be like someone buying a brand new Jaguar and all they use it for is to listen to the radio.  GAFE are powerful tools that need to be used more.  No more "let me email this file to you", just share it.  No more "I can't find the file" search for it and get results immediately.

Best part of GAFE is the unlimited storage available to educators. No worries about running out of data, ever.

7. Teachers would have access to their files at home or anywhere, and be able to edit them anywhere.  I remember needing to have Office at home so I could edit files at home.  That is a thing of the past. As long as you have a Chrome browser running on a device, you can edit all your documents at home. Teachers could even work together on editing a document from two totally different locations.

8. We would be using the same OS as the students.  With over 500 Chromebooks on campus, our students are becoming familiar with Chrome OS it would be beneficial if teachers used the same OS to help them out if they get stuck. Teachers could talk about the app list instead of "the thing like a start menu on my computer".

9. The learning curve is minimal compared to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10. This might be an opinio, but one that is shared with most IT people.  I have 8.1 & a technical preview of 10 running on my pcs. There is a definite learning curve to go from 7 to either of those OS's.  8.1 has Modern UI & traditional desktop. Windows 10 cleans it up a lot, but it still isn't 7.

Chrome OS is simple because it is just a browser. Everyone has experience with a browser, so if there is a learning curve it isn't as challenging as the new OS's coming from Windows.

10. Even though you can't install programs, you have access to 1,000's of web-based apps. Most everything now is done through a browser. Our grade book is browser based. With GAFE, all of our old Office files can be edited on Google Drive & we have access to Google's versions of Office, that are more than capable of doing their jobs.

More and more companies are making their traditional programs available as web based programs because of the success of Chrome OS.  Adobe Photoshop is coming to Chrome OS in the coming weeks. Even test generators are coming. Publisher Pearson has an online test generator that is available now, with more publishers sure to follow.

So those are my reasons.  Don't know if anyone has more to add or refute, but feel free to comment below.

After posting this to some different forums, Stephen Gale an IT director for a Colorado school district added in some more information on the backend/behind the scenes that we teachers don't normally see.

Test Setup and Administration is about 1/10th of what it is with a Active Directory setup. It's more reliable too.  
There is no longer a need for End Point Authentication (No more LDAP server or any true Server on campus). We push out SSIDs through Google's Admin Console to student/staff devices. Staff connected to our Staff SSID (64-random character password) get a faster connection (and slightly less restrictive) than someone on our Guest network which is where non-Chromebook staff are currently joining.  
Since all services that would be provided a traditional server are outsourced to Google for free, we no longer have to maintain Servers (we have 4 physical servers (2 Mac, 2 HP) which cost between $5000 and $9000 each) We don't need to buy new servers, so that money can go into more devices or Infrastructure upgrades. No more MSVL (Microsoft charging us $8,000 every 3 years through CDW-G).


  1. For the teacher station. Is there a way to make something like the SMARTBoard and Document cameras work? That maybe the biggest things holding us back from doing our teacher stations. Unless you have any tips or workarounds for those types of peripherals.

    1. I have gotten a SMARTBoard working on a Chromebook in conjunction with a "Controller" PC. The controller runs minimal software (Chrome Browser and SMARTNotebook) and a Chrome Remote Desktop session connects the two. There is a bit of lag, but it's acceptable for most case uses.

    2. Also, iPevo makes a Document camera that works with Chromebooks. they also have a free document camera App (iPevo Presenter).

    3. couldn't have said it any better. Chrome remote desktop could be used for Smartboard or even something like a test generator program.