Articles / Chromebooks and learning

Chromebooks are still a relative newcomer to the fiercely competitive personal computing market. Having only been on the scene since 2011, they have managed to divide opinion as to their usefulness.

Benefits

Chromebook was devised as an alternative to regular laptops. Their benefits include:

  • being relatively cheap
  • light
  • easy to set up
  • all work is automatically saved to the cloud, making it impossible to lose data.

Take-up of Chromebooks amongst businesses and other organisations has been slow, but are they missing something? The Chromebook concept challenges organisations to consider how they use the available technology. It doesn’t have to be a case of ‘one size fits all’.

In reality, most people in the workplace use their computers for:

  • internet browsing
  • using browser-based applications
  • writing short documents
  • simple spreadsheets
  • simple, template-driven powerpoints
  • quick editing of photos
  • playing music and video

Not many people (in the workplace) go beyond this. That’s exactly the space Chromebooks are designed to fill.

JP Gownder, writing in his blog for Forrester, suggests that companies could “segment their workforce”, so that employees who just need basic functionality (such as listed above) on their computers would use Chromebook, while those employees needing to use “power” functionality could remain with more versatile systems like Windows, MacOS or Linux.

Time-saving

The huge appeal of Chromebooks is that new users can be working productively within minutes. They are easy to use, and quick to boot-up. Tony Parkin, writing in MJO online, of their use in an education context says, ‘log-ons take seconds and have transformed the start of lessons’.

Time is not wasted waiting for uploads or downloads, or for the installation of anti-virus or anti-malware products, thus reducing user frustration.

Chromebooks also offer a hassle-free system to large and small organisations (businesses, education facilities, public services, etc..) alike. They enable easy deployment of applications since the central IT team can install web apps across the workforce at the click of a button. They are easy to support as they auto-update, and there is plenty of storage in the cloud.

Doubts about Chromebook’s practicality persist, given its reliance on the availability of an internet connection. However, many of the apps available allow off-line usage. Once an internet connection is available, the changes are synced to the cloud automatically.

Security

With regard to Chromebook’s security features, yes, they are encrypted, so no unauthorised individual can access your data. The ‘How to Geek’ website offers a useful exploration of Chromebook’s security features, and shows how the Chromebook designers have really thought about security.

Applications in education and training

Many organisations are exploring the use of tablets in training and education contexts, but perhaps Chromebooks might fit some needs better? They have the same quick start-up and centralised deployment benefits, but also come with larger screens and usable keyboards – often at a cheaper price.

Or do I just choose tablets because they have more “kudos”?

Further reading

http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/laptops/chromebooks-for-business-are-they-worth-it–1171729

 


Posted: 09 December 2013

Tags: Technology Supplier selection