How to Use Chromebooks in the Classroom

Internet-connected devices have become an indispensable part of the modern classroom, and an ever-growing number of educators are turning to Chromebooks as their go-to education device.

Chromebooks, which are small, web-connected laptops running Google’s Chrome operating system, have recently outpaced Apple iPads and Microsoft devices as the most popular classroom mobile technology. Although only accounting for 1% of devices sold to schools in 2012, Chromebooks have quickly become a teacher favorite. In 2015, more than 4.4 million Chromebooks were sold for K-12 education, accounting for more than half of all devices purchased by schools, CNBC reported. Estimates are only higher for 2016.

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The low cost, small size, and mobility of Chromebooks makes them more practical and attractive for many educators than other mobile devices. Chromebooks provide teachers with the technology — such as individualized learning paces, online teaching aids, and unparalleled research tools — they need for their classrooms at a reasonable price.

How Chromebooks Work

Chromebooks look like a laptops, function like mobile devices, and have the advantages of both without many of the costs or problems. The Google software devices are made by a variety of manufacturers which allows for costs as low as $199 and a plethora of hardware designs.

All Chromebooks run Chrome OS, an operating system that uses an Internet connection for almost all functions. This means that Chromebooks don’t have slow processing time when booting up or need the costly hardrive and hardware of traditional laptops and desktop computers, EdTechTeacher notes. This saves teachers valuable classroom minutes.

Chromebooks are most often compared to iPads for classroom use. Although iPads have the benefit of touchscreen interaction, which is not present with most Chromebook devices, they are inferior in most other ways. Chromebooks vary in design due to the number of hardware manufacturers, but typically have larger screens than tablets and always include a keyboard, which allows students to practice typing.

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While iPads cost $400 or more depending on the model, per unit, teachers can find dozens of Chromebook options for less than $300. Chromebooks can boast more that 10 hours of battery life, feature options for WiFi or 4G LTE connection, feature a variety of apps, and can use Adobe Flash player unlike Apple devices.

One of the biggest benefits to the Chromebook is that all documents are stored in the cloud. Students will be able to access their work regardless of which device they used the day before.

Although many educators may be more familiar with Microsoft operating systems and Apple devices, the adjustment to Chrome will not be difficult. The device’s quick function and the operating system’s similarity to the Chrome browser make adoption swift and pleasant.

There are only three steps to using a Chromebook.

  1. Power up the device as you would with any technology.
  2. Connect to the Internet by signing into the school’s WiFi. Typically this only needs to be done the first time. Some devices include ethernet ports.
  3. Sign in to your Google account just like you would on a desktop.

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Tip and Tricks for Classroom Chromebooks

There are a number of tricks, tips, and shortcuts that can help educators save time in the classroom and spend more time focusing on education. Try some of these tips in your class.

Use that Keyboard

There are dozens of keyboard shortcuts, so make sure you use them and teach your students, too. You can also design your own shortcuts and hotkey them for convenience. Shortcuts keep class time efficient.

Learn About Privacy and Controls

You can control what students access, how they access your computer, and what privacy options are enabled. Schools and districts often have policies in place, but it can help for teachers to learn the technology too.

Pin Your Students Important Sites and Apps

Spend a little extra time during a prep period to pin the sites and apps you need to the home screen. This can save you precious classroom time while you execute a lesson plan.

Share your Screen, Enable Collaboration, and Have Fun

Chromebooks are great for the classroom because they rely on web apps. The web-connectivity allows for collaboration on everything from a document to more creative work in real time. Additionally you can cast your screen, upload a lesson to YouTube, and use tons of handy extensions. Spend some time playing with the unique and fun features of your Chromebook so that you can best use it in the classroom.

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