27,000 Google ChromeBooks to Schools

 Daring Fireball’s John Gruber linked to this article, which discusses the implementation of Google ChromeBooks in schools.  The selling points of ChromeBooks remain the same:

  • 8-second startup times
  • 8.5-hour battery life
  • Self-updates
  • Easy to manage on a network

Ironically, the article actually lavished the most praise on tablets (not specifically on the iPad).

But here’s the item for me: The ChromeBook is generally useless for music education.  You should be able to use some web-based music games, musictheory.net (whose developer now writes iOS apps), and perhaps even NoteFlight.  But let’s be honest…are you going to be able to use these devices daily in Band? Choir?  Orchestra?  General music?  Can they become part of your daily music curriculum?  Probably not.

So from a standpoint of a music educator, I have to say “Boo” to the adoption of ChromeBooks.  They may be useful for web research and Google Docs.  Unfortunately, those tools don’t impact our subject matter on a daily basis–and in fact, they might not impact a numbers of subjects.  Are all textbooks web-based and thus accessible on the ChromeBook?  What about its uses in other subjects like Art, Business (Programming?), or Math?

I’d just like ChromeBook adopters to be honest and say that a school of ChromeBooks sends a message that technology is for specific subjects or kinds of projects.   What really matters in a ChromeBook school is the ability to access the web and to write papers and make presentations, with a physical keyboard.  It doesn’t matter if the devices are adaptable for multiple subject areas.

iPads aren’t perfect.  So far, there are less than a dozen new interactive textbooks in the iBook Store.  If you want to type on a physical keyboard, you need to buy one.  There are over 170,000 iPad apps, some of which are ideal for education.  But some apps aren’t great, and others are lacking features.  Even so, the iPad gives a new level of flexibility to more subjects, rather than to simply be used for searching the web and putting projects together.  So unless you’re looking at the bottom line of cost, isn’t the iPad the better fit for education?  Or is it possible that I’m such a “fanboi” of Apple products that I can’t appreciate what the ChromeBook brings to the table?


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