Chromebooks 101: A Guide for Which Chromebook to buy?

Is your school looking at Chromebooks? Unsure which one to buy? Although there might seem like a lot to choose from, there are infinitely fewer than if you were looking to buy a new Windows laptop. This guide takes a quick tour of the current lineup and gives some pros and cons for each in order to help you decide which Chromebook to buy. Prices listed do not include the $30 management console fee, which is in addition to the retail price and is charged per device for schools who want to manage their Chromebooks from a secure online Dashboard.

Acer C7 – $199

Acer c7

Pros:

  • Price – $199
  • 320GB of local storage – plenty for all your offline docs
  • VGA and HDMI ports
  • 100Gb of Drive storage for free for 2 years
  • HD webcam
  • Ethernet port

Cons:

  • Intel Celeron Processor
  • HDD not SSD so slower boot times and resume
  • 4 hour battery life – the least of all Chromebooks and not enough for a school day
  • No Bluetooth

Samsung Chromebook – $249

Samsung Chromebook

Pros:

  • Price – $249
  • 0.7 inches thin and only 2.4 lbs
  • 16Gb Solid State Hard Drive for 10 second boot times
  • 6.5 hour battery life
  • 100Gb of Drive storage for free for 2 years
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Dual core ARM processor

Cons:

  • No VGA out
  • Perhaps not as durable as some others?
  • No Ethernet port
  • VGA Webcam

HP Pavillion Chromebook – $329

HP Pavillion Chromebook

Pros:

  • 14-inch screen – the largest of any Chromebook
  • HD webcam
  • 16Gb Solid State Hard Drive for 10 second boot times
  • Multi-format Card Reader
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • Ethernet port
  • 100Gb of Drive storage for free for 2 years

Cons:

  • 4.25 hour battery life
  • No VGA out
  • Weight – 3.96lbs

Continue reading “Chromebooks 101: A Guide for Which Chromebook to buy?”

InfuseLearning.com: Free Online Assessment Tool

InfuseLearning.com is a free online assessment tool that is designed to let educators make fast and easy formative or summative assessments of their students. It is a relatively new service, but one that is gathering support quickly due to its versatility and ease of use.
online test taking tool

InfuseLearning is like a unique, virtual classroom that you and your students log in to. It lets you quiz your class on topics of your choice, and it records the students responses so that you can use the results to inform your teaching. Quizzes can be given in one of two ways. There are the quick fire questions that teachers can use for immediate feedback. (True/False, Multiple Choice, Sort and Order, Open Ended Text, Numeric or Likert Scale are all possible choices for this). The teacher would ask the question orally, or have it displayed at the front of the class, and students can respond on an internet enabled device. Responses are displayed in real-time on the teacher device.

The second option for teachers is to create a quiz ahead of time. Students can then complete it at their own pace, and all the questions and possible answers will be online and displayed on the device that the student is using to take the test. An added feature here, is the ability for the students to have the questions read aloud, or even translated into another language and then read aloud. This is a great feature for ELL students, but teachers can choose whether to enable or disable these features on a student by student basis when they create their own class. In this way, it can also be a very useful tool for MFL teachers.

However, my favorite feature of this free online assessment tool is the fact that it is a cross-platform site. This means that it is not device specific. It can be used on Macs, PCs, iPads, Andriod tablets, Chromebooks, or just about anything else with a modern web browser. So, InfuseLearning can be used in the classroom whether you are 1:1, BYOD, in a computer lab, or a classroom with a variety of devices, and that versatility is something that should not be dismissed quickly, particularly when you consider that this tool is free to anyone who wants to use.

Check out the video below for an overview of how InfuseLearning works in practice, and leave a comment below if you have successfully used InfuseLearning in your classroom.

Chromebooks: A Worthwhile 1:1 Device for Education?

There are a growing number of 1:1 districts in Iowa, and a variety of devices are being deployed in these districts. The Macbook is very popular, as are PC laptops and iPads, but what about the Chromebook? Is it a viable device for schools? Google certainly seems to think so. In fact, it recently announced that it was currently being used in over 500 school districts in the USA and Europe.

Courtesy of Samsung.com

Here in Iowa, Council Bluffs has deployed 4,300 Chromebooks. In South Carolina, Richmond School District has 19,000 Chromebooks, while another 3,500 are found at Leyden High School in Illinois. It has a ways to go in order to come close to the inroads made by the iPad or even the Macbook, but as a portable, viable device, it is catching on quick. Chromebooks in education are a growing force.

Device management is a major plus. The Google Dashboard console is easy to navigate, intuitive to use, and has almost all the options that schools are looking for with mobile device management software. When you compare this to what you would have to do to manage a collection of iPads, there really is little comparison. Apple’s Configurator is a great start, but it is not without its faults and random bugs.

I’ve been using a Samsung Series 5 550 for about a week now, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed using it. It is quick to start up, and even quicker to resume from sleep. The battery life is decent, but maybe not quite as good as it could be for classroom use. The Chrome OS has evolved well over the last few months, and there is an increasing number of offline apps available so you can still check your mail, write notes, or browse your calendar and docs without a wi-fi connection.

Does it take time adjusting to the Chrome OS? Absolutely, but if you are a Google Apps school, the transition will not be as big as you might think. There are apps for almost anything you want to do now, so Chromebooks in education are becoming more relevant by the day, especially with the introduction of the new $249 Samsung Chromebook that weighs less than 2.5lbs and has a battery rated for 6.5 hours of continuous use.

So, are you considering Chromebooks in your school district? What are the pros and cons that you have come up against while weighing up the merits of this platform?