1. Witness's Avatar
    I'm a school board member for my kid's school - a PTA like organization that funds programs, and augment staffing for the elementary school. Some time ago, the principal had requested from our organization to fund the acquisition of laptop computers to be used in the classroom. It stalled over a debate where one member argued for Macbooks or iPads, another for Chromebooks, and me for PCs - hybrids actually. Fast forward a year later, and Mac/iPad guy thinks we should just go Chromebooks (he doesn't like MS). It's progress, but I'm still in the PC camp, yet I'm not completely opposed to Chromebooks.

    Here's the thing. I embarked on an exploratory journey on determining which platform to pick with another guy. In talking with the school district director, the principal himself, and some board members - it feels like everyone just wants to go with Chromebooks. A choice I feel that wasn't completely grounded on the understanding of the platform, or from the IT perspective - a terminal computer that would be easy to support. All everyone can say is that it's cheap, it's simple, and teachers who were using their favorite teaching software would be able to find an equivalent "App" for the Chromebooks. The key points I try to drive home are:

    -A CB is just a web browser, which a PC can emulate just by running Chrome and can run thousands of other software programs
    -A CB cost around $200, and a Celeron/Atom laptop can be had for the same price
    -A PC offers the flexibility of living in the Google ecosystem, or also using whatever PC software that meets the teacher's need so risk is minimized
    -"Apps" on the CB are generally just bookmarks to a web app that can run on any web browser
    -Use real productivity applications on PC with MS Office vs Google Docs
    -Trying to buy any paid add is a convoluted process
    -Because our kids now need to learn how to type, I used an example where the online version (CBs) Typing Tutor software would cost $30 per year/user, but cost $8 as a software download (PCs) through Amazon

    Going for the CBs however are:
    -District pricing with 3yr warranty for CB is $350 vs $500 for the PC - a pricing differential that is ridiculous, and was chosen for enterprise level ruggedness because kids
    -Simply easy to maintain since there'll hardly be any maintenance

    Anyways, it's not an unknown fact that Google has made major headway in the education market and has billed themselves as being cheap, fast and easy. They've succeeded because that's what everyone thinks, and the school district's IT department prefers this direction. So , resistance is futile. I don't have a more compelling argument to go PC and overcome the $150 cost differential. BYOD was an option which would equalize the price difference, but we would lose out on the warranty which would be nice to have.

    What do you think? Is this a battle worth fighting anymore? We'll have around 100-150 units by the end of the project, and I'd rather these kids grow up learning enterprise level software with the flexibility to do things like video editing if they wanted to on a PC. I feel so ranty....
    01-09-2015 12:03 AM
  2. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    01-09-2015 12:08 AM
  3. tgp's Avatar
    I'd rather these kids grow up learning enterprise level software with the flexibility to do things like video editing if they wanted to on a PC.
    In my opinion, this is your most valid argument.

    On the other side, my employer had a contract with 2 different local school districts to service their student laptops. It was a nightmare! The student user profiles were restricted, which made so they couldn't install much of anything, including some things they needed. And there were plenty of other issues too, with both hardware and Windows.

    Administrative control is one area where the Chromebook shines. As long as the apps your school needs are available, I don't think it's a foolish idea. Maintenance is another huge advantage of the Chromebook.

    The Chromebook is becoming very popular in education. Low initial cost, low maintenance, and ease of control are the big reasons. A Chromebook is not nearly as capable as a PC, but it's capable of what most school districts need. They restrict their PCs so much anyway.

    Elementary students aren't going to be doing things like video editing anyway. And if they do need to know that later, they'll pick it up quick enough. Most families have PCs at home.

    Sent from whatever device I happen to be using today using Tapatalk
    01-09-2015 01:19 AM
  4. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Elementary students aren't going to be doing things like video editing anyway. And if they do need to know that later, they'll pick it up quick enough. Most families have PCs at home.
    That's a good point. The OP did not mention how old the kids are, so we don't know if they are grade school, junior high or high school students.
    01-09-2015 01:28 AM
  5. tgp's Avatar
    That's a good point. The OP did not mention how old the kids are, so we don't know if they are grade school, junior high or high school students.
    The OP mentioned elementary school in the first sentence, but no it's not 100% clear that that's who this is for.

    I also want to make it clear that I am most definitely NOT a Chromebook fan! My wife has one and loves it, but I never got on to it much. I'll use my PC thank you! But with my experience of a few years servicing school laptops, I feel that at this point the Chromebook is a better option. That of course assumes that all necessary apps are available.

    Sent from whatever device I happen to be using today using Tapatalk
    a5cent, Laura Knotek and aximtreo like this.
    01-09-2015 01:37 AM
  6. anon(9057135)'s Avatar
    If you don't want kids to download programs, Chromebook. However, some classes require programs only available on Windows
    01-09-2015 09:18 AM
  7. Witness's Avatar
    Have you contacted Microsoft? Affordable Windows Devices for U.S. Schools
    Thanks. I actually started dialog with the community rep at the local MS Store a while back. I was considering RTs at the time, but needed more. Then the project stalled. This is a good link though.

    In my opinion, this is your most valid argument.

    On the other side, my employer had a contract with 2 different local school districts to service their student laptops. It was a nightmare! The student user profiles were restricted, which made so they couldn't install much of anything, including some things they needed. And there were plenty of other issues too, with both hardware and Windows.

    Administrative control is one area where the Chromebook shines. As long as the apps your school needs are available, I don't think it's a foolish idea. Maintenance is another huge advantage of the Chromebook.

    The Chromebook is becoming very popular in education. Low initial cost, low maintenance, and ease of control are the big reasons. A Chromebook is not nearly as capable as a PC, but it's capable of what most school districts need. They restrict their PCs so much anyway.

    Elementary students aren't going to be doing things like video editing anyway. And if they do need to know that later, they'll pick it up quick enough. Most families have PCs at home.
    Yeah, there isn't too much I can say that would make CBs a bad route to go. Sure, there are a number of reasons that make it not great, but good enough seems to be the mantra that is aiding its success. I find it very ironic that things like these limitations on apps and functionality are overlooked on CBs, but Windows RT was slammed for its limitation. Well, as I mentioned before the ease of maintenance is definitely a plus. The granularity of of security controls for Windows are either a godsend to some, or a complicated mess for others. I was going to obtain elevated rights to administer the PCs on site, but it won't be possible with the CBs - I'm either a user, or I can administer every workstation in the school district. So, I'm not getting admin rights. As for software, the kids will use Word and PowerPoint (or well, the Google equivalent which would be "good enough"), but the 5th grade kids have been wanted to do some video work as class projects.

    The OP mentioned elementary school in the first sentence, but no it's not 100% clear that that's who this is for.

    I also want to make it clear that I am most definitely NOT a Chromebook fan! My wife has one and loves it, but I never got on to it much. I'll use my PC thank you! But with my experience of a few years servicing school laptops, I feel that at this point the Chromebook is a better option. That of course assumes that all necessary apps are available.

    Sent from whatever device I happen to be using today using Tapatalk
    CB/PCs will initially be distributed to 4th/5th graders first, then K through 3rd after.

    I'm actually using a 2011 Samsung Chromebook to write this out right now. It's a loaner unit from the district to get a feel for it, and to get the teachers to try it out. It is very much lagging right now. Loading pages on WindowsCentral takes a bit, and even typing this out there is a slight keystroke delay. I heard the new CBs have an Intel chipset, so maybe it'll run as fast as that $150 Acer Celeron I got on a deal from MS Store last week.

    If you don't want kids to download programs, Chromebook. However, some classes require programs only available on Windows
    About the only requirement for software is whatever specification needed on the web browser for student testing. Both the CB and PC support it. The kids won't break the CB's software for sure. I'd like to see Windows have a simpler means of running in an almost kiosk mode for school use.
    01-09-2015 11:31 PM
  8. Witness's Avatar
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts. As mentioned in my previous post, I'm actually writing this out on a Samsung Chromebook circa 2011/12 as a loaner from the school district. It's laggy, and the touchpad is a little buggy, but maybe because of the district configuration-bloat or that it's a used CB.

    I'll be handing the loaner CBs to a couple teachers next week for them to trial, and likely to pull the trigger on purchase soon after. It's a futile battle to try to change people's mind on this since some of them just feel MS is old/outdated, are Mac users, have a positive opinion of CBs despite not ever having used one personally, think that because we plan to use Google Apps for Ed it requires CBs or have already made up their minds on this direction when it was first brought up. It's the same kind of mindset which is why Windows Phones haven't made more headway in the smartphone market.

    All I can do now is at least get the district to configure these terminals to use Bing as the default search engine with Bing Rewards turned on.
    01-09-2015 11:43 PM
  9. Jas00555's Avatar
    OP, I honestly think you're over thinking this. While your particular board may think this way, they're certainly the minority. While your colleagues are doing this, the entire state of Maryland is deploying Office 365 to every school (which means that they intend to use it on a PC)

    http://www.windowscentral.com/all-pu...ess-office-365

    My state does this for about 80% of the counties and Kentucky does the same thing for the entire state.
    Laura Knotek likes this.
    01-10-2015 12:10 AM
  10. Ordeith's Avatar
    Google still datamines student Chromebooks. The signing away of rights Google makes the school ask parents for is disturbing. Personally I wouldn't want my kids school data getting used in Google's people analytics experiments.

    Office 365 is just as "free" to students as GAFE, and is a much better toolset.

    As for Bing rewards, get the parents involved in the program to donate points to your schools so they can get some free surface machines.
    a5cent and Petephone like this.
    01-10-2015 12:22 AM
  11. srcpt's Avatar
    I'm amazed your school district's IT department doesn't dictate the choice to you.
    01-11-2015 05:21 PM
  12. Witness's Avatar
    I'm amazed your school district's IT department doesn't dictate the choice to you.
    They support BYOD, and if you think about what schools get in terms of donated hardware, they would pretty much support whatever we use to a certain degree. There's pressure to go one direction, but I'm glad it isn't dictated.
    01-14-2015 03:18 PM
  13. gMaesterUK's Avatar
    I've always believed schools should only use computer systems used by the majority of companies, so mostly Windows or Apple. What's the point in teaching them to use a Chromebook (for example) if the business the eventually work for uses Windows (most probable)?

    Getting children ready for the real world should be the objective here, not personal opinions or budget constraints. Or is my thinking now outdated?

    G.
    a5cent and Laura Knotek like this.
    01-14-2015 03:36 PM
  14. Nogitsune Micah's Avatar
    I've always believed schools should only use computer systems used by the majority of companies, so mostly Windows or Apple. What's the point in teaching them to use a Chromebook (for example) if the business the eventually work for uses Windows (most probable)?

    Getting children ready for the real world should be the objective here, not personal opinions or budget constraints. Or is my thinking now outdated?

    G.
    This so much. I would want my children learning on Windows or mac vs chromebooks
    gMaesterUK and Laura Knotek like this.
    01-14-2015 03:37 PM
  15. a5cent's Avatar
    Getting children ready for the real world should be the objective here, not personal opinions or budget constraints. Or is my thinking now outdated?.
    This is a little off topic, but I'd like to know why force schools to spend money on this in the first place?
    I'm all for helping kids learn how to think about hardware and software, and understand the internet from a technical perspective, etc, but do they need this equipment for that?
    What is it that kids actually learn with this equipment, that will still be relevant by the time they enter the workforce?
    01-14-2015 03:57 PM
  16. gMaesterUK's Avatar
    My sister is a teacher (11+) where all homework is electronic so she can actively monitor that homework is being done, so kids don't have the excuse that the dog chewed it! Also it saves money on the workbooks. I'm all for making things electronic nowadays, though it's still necessary to be able to pick up a pen & paper!

    G.
    Laura Knotek and a5cent like this.
    01-14-2015 04:03 PM
  17. Witness's Avatar
    I've always believed schools should only use computer systems used by the majority of companies, so mostly Windows or Apple. What's the point in teaching them to use a Chromebook (for example) if the business the eventually work for uses Windows (most probable)?

    Getting children ready for the real world should be the objective here, not personal opinions or budget constraints. Or is my thinking now outdated?

    G.
    I completely agree. If you're going to teach kids computers, you may as well teach them enterprise level OS and software. Some schools are using iPads which to me makes no sense. Is it because the iPads are easier to use? They're too expensive for public schools, and kids these days can learn these newfangled computers better than we can back in the day. They're growing up with the stuff everywhere.

    This is a little off topic, but I'd like to know why force schools to spend money on this in the first place?
    I'm all for helping kids learn how to think about hardware and software, and understand the internet from a technical perspective, etc, but do they need this equipment for that?
    What is it that kids actually learn with this equipment, that will still be relevant by the time they enter the workforce?
    The 4th and 5th grade kids will learn how to search for information on the net, learn to type, and some are learning how to do basic coding. This is a jumpstart to preparing them for the future jobs. By the time they're in middle and high school, operating a computer should be old hat, and if that is the case it is a success. They've mastered a tool. Learning it in school ensures that every student has experience with properly operating this tool, because some kids don't have computers accessible to them, or their parents don't know how to operate them effectively themself. As for relevance in the future - as the equipment changes, so will the equipment change in the classroom. The important stuff is that they're comfortable with it now so they will be comfortable to adapting to the next thing.
    01-15-2015 12:28 PM
  18. a5cent's Avatar
    The 4th and 5th grade kids will learn how to search for information on the net, learn to type, and some are learning how to do basic coding.
    Thank you. gMaesterUK's point about saving money on textbooks and making things easier for teachers made a lot of sense to me. I could imagine that over a two year period such a device could potentially already pay for itself. Use it for four years and you'd potentially have saved the school a lot of money. If that's true I'd say there is nothing to debate.
    I don't yet know whether I agree that it's of much benefit to kids however, which is what I was thinking about when I posed that question.
    Last I heard there is not a single home (with kids) left in my country without high speed internet access and at least one PC (most households have more PC's than televisions). For places where that is not true I'd also understand the importance of such a program. That just doesn't apply to the society I live in. For learning mechanical typing skills a real keyboard obviously also makes a lot of sense, but again, I'm not sure that means every kid must own the exact same school funded device. In addition to those doubts, I also think a lot of people simply overestimate the degree to which computing devices can facilitate learning and teaching. I did a bit of searching and found this video that sums up my own views quite well:

    But again, what gMaesterUK said already means there isn't really anything left to debate on whether or not such purchases make sense. They probably do, even if students benefitted nothing from them.
    Last edited by a5cent; 01-15-2015 at 11:35 PM.
    01-15-2015 04:40 PM
  19. Witness's Avatar
    An update for those who were interested in this problem that I've been tackling.

    A couple weeks ago, I gave up. I gave the board my blessings (as if they really needed it) and agreed to execute the orders for the Chromebooks. Contacted the district for procurement procedures, and when the weekend came I receive an email from the board President. Basically, the teachers have decided that they would like PCs because they know how to operate them and if there issues they encountered, they would be able to help the students.

    Wow.

    Without rubbing anything in, I'm now in the process of purchasing laptops. I guess, when I gave up, I win at the end - haha. Thanks for discussion everyone!
    Ordeith, a5cent, zeref0016 and 2 others like this.
    02-09-2015 04:15 PM
  20. Harrie-S's Avatar
    Now you should change the title of your post ;-)
    Witness likes this.
    02-09-2015 04:28 PM
  21. Ordeith's Avatar
    Thanks for the update.
    Witness likes this.
    02-10-2015 02:36 PM
  22. gMaesterUK's Avatar
    That is good news, sense prevails!
    Don't see the benefit teaching children Chromebooks as they aren't generally used in Business.

    G.
    Witness likes this.
    02-11-2015 09:49 AM
  23. Kavu2's Avatar
    >Witness
    Thanks for the insights into the school procurement process of parent-teacher-admin-public inputs/analysis. A microcosm of the IT world. It seems the smaller the format (ie home/school...), the narrower the view. But that's the effect of blinders...fud.

    An objective layout of benefits/detriments/options for each choice would or should normally produce the best choice for the intended usage. Unfortunately people's opinions tend to cloud and taint those opinions and apply the blinder effect.

    But thanks for the discussion, it is useful for application at all levels of procurement.
    Witness likes this.
    02-12-2015 09:17 AM
  24. Witness's Avatar
    This is also why I don't trust Google and their Chromebooks: Google invading student privacy with Chromebooks: EFF | ZDNet


    Article:

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has accused Google of using its Chromebooks to invade the privacy of students in a complaint filed with the United States Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday.
    The EFF's complaint alleges that Google has enabled by default the "Sync" feature on its Chrome browser for Chromebooks sold to schools, which monitors and collects data on internet searches, websites visited, saved passwords, and videos viewed by US students using the laptops from kindergarten through to the 12th grade in order to improve its digital services.

    According to the EFF, this violates a Student Privacy Pledge signed by Google in 2014, which it said is legally enforceable under the Federal Trade Commission Act.Chromebook privacy settings are also unable to be changed by users, with only school administrators given the capability to do so.
    "Google is violating the Student Privacy Pledge in three ways. First, when students are logged into their Google for Education accounts, student personal information in the form of data about their use of non-educational Google services is collected, maintained, and used by Google for its own benefit, unrelated to authorized educational or school purposes," the privacy group alleged in its complaint.
    "Second, the 'Chrome Sync' feature of Google's Chrome browser is turned on by default on all Google Chromebook laptops -- including those sold to schools as part of Google for Education -- thereby enabling Google to collect and use students' entire browsing history and other data for its own benefit, unrelated to authorized educational or school purposes.
    "And third, Google for Education's administrative settings, which enable a school administrator to control settings for all program Chromebooks, allow administrators to choose settings that share student personal information with Google and third-party websites in violation of the Student Privacy Pledge."
    The EFF unearthed the information during its Spying on Students campaign looking into privacy risks of school-supplied devices and software, which was launched on Tuesday.
    "Despite publicly promising not to, Google mines students' browsing data and other information, and uses it for the company's own purposes. Making such promises and failing to live up to them is a violation of FTC rules against unfair and deceptive business practices," argued EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo.
    "Minors shouldn't be tracked or used as guinea pigs, with their data treated as a profit center. If Google wants to use students' data to 'improve Google products', then it needs to get express consent from parents."
    The EFF has since released a guide for parents and students on changing Chromebook settings to improve privacy, while Google has disputed the charges, saying it has not done anything wrong.
    The newest complaint about Google's online monitoring follows the tech giant on Monday denying that it had made a deal with the Israeli government to assist in monitoring YouTubevideos inciting attacks on Israelis.
    According to a previous statement from the Foreign Ministry, Google executives met last week with Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and agreed to institute a mechanism whereby they would jointly monitor online activity, including YouTube videos encouraging attacks on Israelis.
    However, Google has since disputed that it made any such deal.
    The meeting between Hotovely and Google's senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki was just "one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging, and removals", a Google spokesperson said on Monday.
    "The Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has corrected its original announcement, which, in error, suggested there had been an agreement with Google to establish a mechanism to monitor online materials," the spokesperson added.
    The Foreign Ministry has since updated the statement on its website to reflect this, but ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said the Israeli government remains "extremely grateful for the good relations with Google", suggesting that the two entities will still be working together to flag and remove "dangerous" material.
    "Our common objective is to remove dangerous incitement to violence on social media," the government spokesperson said.
    "We have full confidence in the Google teams dealing with this removal."
    With AAP
    12-02-2015 12:40 PM

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