The Internet, Web 2.0 and many Cloud-based are public resources that educators can leverage for the multitude of technical, social and educational communities that are represented. The essence of accessing the Internet, is the browser. There are many browsers available which run on various hardware devices such as PC’s (laptops and desktops), Mac’s, tablets and smartphones. I will focus on a browser based laptop model called the Chromebook, which runs an operating system called Chrome OS rather than Windows or OSX. ChromeOS is a derivative of the Linux operating system. Chromebooks usually have lesser capabilities than current laptops because they are not designed to run large applications locally with the CPU (processor) on the Chromebook. The technology that Chromebooks take advantage of is the client-server model of program execution.
There are many advantages which the Chromebook can provide for all levels of education. They efficiently take advantage of the resources available on the Internet by relying on remote processing on servers that are already in place for a multitude of applications that are “Cloud-Based.” They are cost-effective for the educational environments that are often cash-strapped, and laden with expenses for personnel and facilities. Since the ChromeOS is free, provided by Google, the cost factor is lowered, and the hardware itself is designed to be optimized for Internet, server-based applications. The ChromeOS is a highly secure operating system, which offers an advantage to educational institutions, reducing computer security expenditures on such things as virus protection. They also offer the IT departments in schools many advantages: “The devices are stateless, so any updates needed come from the cloud. It takes all that stress and time away from the IT staff” (Parallels, 2017).
Some disadvantages exist, for example, in that ChromeBooks rely on constant Internet connectivity. However, traditional desktops and laptops also rely heavily on Internet connectivity. There are workarounds for loss of Internet connectivity on local area networks, in that alternative connections can be made via cell networks, WiFi and other network technologies.
ChromeBooks provide an important infrastructure component for educational environments, the client-computer, enabling accessibility to the Internet by students and teachers (O’Donnell & Perry, 2013). The connectedness that they provide lays the groundwork to support all of the ISTE standards for students by enabling far-reaching access to applications and data for creative use. The ChromeBooks adopted by educational organizations can increase communication and collaboration through connectivity, enable research and information fluency through access of online libraries and databases.
Teachers and Educational institutions can benefit greatly from ChromeBooks since the costs are low and they are easy to use. According to PCM-G: “Teachers love the (Chromebooks) ease of use, quick response time, and less technical difficulty than Windows” (Parallels, 2017).
There are an amazing number of applications that teachers can take advantage of, and that align with ISTE standards.
- “Assessments Using achievement data to improve learning
- Chrome Web Apps to Do more with the web
- Flipping the Classroom to reinforce Teacher as a facilitator
- Google Drive to Create and Collaborate
- Google+ to Share and Connect
- Open Educational Resources Beyond Textbooks”
(from Google in Education)
ChromeBooks also reinforce the need for improved distance learning models (i.e. ODL, or Open Distance Learning) and solutions by providing an open, secure platform for equipping K-12 and higher education students with cost-effective computers to access the Internet. They also support Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) which is a strong predictor of academic achievement (Kirmizi 2015).
Being able to equip students with a standardized, accessible, open system for utilizing the Internet also supports Self-Regulated Learning, providing self-efficacy, and empowering students to acquire knowledge through community, then interact, organize, and reflect on their formed knowledge (Bandura 2001). Also, the current generation of student need not be partial to a particular operating system or computer configuration, but simply need access to the applications and information on the Internet in an open way, preferring the things that matter most such as immediate social community engagement, interactivity, digital literacies, connectivity, experiential learning, and teamwork (Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, 2005).
The ChromeBook technology is continually refined through advancements in hardware technology and improvements to the ChromeOS. Since ChromeOS is a Linux-based operating system, it takes advantage of the Open Source Community, which brings together software developers from around the world to contribute their skills to producing software which is the best it can be. To understand the power of Open Source software, you simply can look on sourceforge.net to realize the magnitude of the work that the community of developers have forged. A sound technology like the ChromeBook/ChromeOS can feed upon itself in that allows for many to be reached with technology because of its low cost and efficiency, and in turn, can produce new programmers who have learnt their craft using the cloud based information and development tools that can be accessed. The critical mass, collective activity and aggregate effort makes for a superb quality product. (Granovetter, 1978).
Bandura, A. (2001). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Annual review of psychology, 52(1), 1-26.
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Oblinger, D., & Oblinger, J. (2005). Is it age or IT: First steps toward understanding the net generation. Educating the net generation, 2(1-2), 20.
O’Donnell, B., & Perry, R. (2013). Quantifying the Economic Value of Chromebooks for K–12 Education.