A paradigm shift in what we need in a computer – Google Chromebooks

The thought of changing over to a new machine always sends a shiver down my spine – no matter how many times I have to do.  And yes, in my role as the Head of ICT, I am always doing this.  

The task of swapping over to a new machines means that there are new workflows to discover and embed into my daily routine.  Recently I was provided a Chromebook to review.  I have been using Google Chrome on my Mac and Lenovo machines for a number of years.  Google Chrome is my number 1 choice of browsers.  So when I took possession of the Chromebook and powered it on, the first thing that struck me was the quick response time – 8 seconds to turn on and ask for my account credentials.  A big plus in education where wait times of 5 minutes is not unheard of 🙂

As I have used Google Chrome and Google Drive, all of my bookmarks, files and history is there – as though I have been using this machine for years.  Another plus.

Now, I work in a PC school and the current set up does require me to use some software that is Windows based.  For that the workaround was to use remote desktop.  I have worked in some schools where this was not switched on by the IT department for security reasons.  I am lucky that this was the case.  Using Remote Desktop is great in these few situations I need to access a platform specific piece of software.

During the week I gave the laptop to one of my children to do their school work on.  They had never used this laptop before and with a quick tutorial by Dad (for those of you reading this blog who are IT specialists with kids you will know that your child always knows more than you), they were as productive as if they were using their own personal machine.  The kicker came when they finished their work.  “How much are these computers Dad?  $350 – they why are schools buying $1000 computers when this does the job?”

The Google Chromebook is a fantastic machine that fits the bill for what students need to do in school unless they are doing specialist subject like Industrial Arts and need a program like AutoCAD.  

We need a paradigm shift in our thinking of what we need a machine to do.  We have been conditioned over the past 20 years of what we need it for.  ICT’s is not about learning software, it is about using a tool to get a job done.  Cloud computing is here to stay and Google have made big inroads in education .  I really think they GET education and schools.

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4 thoughts on “A paradigm shift in what we need in a computer – Google Chromebooks

  1. Thanks for sharing. About to trial Chromebooks with a class of Year 8s. Very excited and great to get some tips.
    Cheers Lorraine

  2. Thanks for your review. I was wondering what is the Remote App called that you are using, but I have found it – it’s not the Chrome Remote Desktop, but the Chrome RDP – in case you are connecting to a MS Windows server.
    My only concern with the Chromebooks is bandwidth. Storing everything in Google Drive, up in the cloud while hundreds of students are using them at the same time. This will be difficult.
    I just got one to test recently, but as an IT teacher with dozens of special software to use, it is not easy to that shift you are talking about 🙂 Of course it’s easier if you think, that a computer is just a tool and you can have remote desktop connections and special computer rooms at school…
    Will see, how I go – I’m curious 🙂
    Cheers, Attila

    • Hi Attila

      Thanks for your comments. Yes you are quite correct it is the Chrome RDP.

      With regards to the bandwidth, I have been trialling offline docs at my school. I have used my final Masters assignment as the test bed. I have no back up of it except the assignment in offline mode when I am at school and at the YuGiOh tournaments with my son. Every update has been saved (I think it caches the file as the Samsung only has 16 Gb of SSD memory) and syncs when I get back home.

      I certainly empathise with you about having to use specialise software. Which ones do you ‘have’ to use?

      Keep me posted.
      -Wes

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