For several decades, computers have played an integral part in educating students, and, as computers become cheaper and more powerful, that role is set to increase. Today, a student can use the internet to do what formerly took an army of textbooks, calculators, and trips to a teacher’s office for help, all without leaving the comfort of their chair.
Google, known mainly for google.com and the Android operating system on smartphones, is on the forward edge of this synergy between education and technology with their Chrome internet browser, and its many applications. At the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference, in San Diego, the technology giant demonstrated many of the possibilities when this technology is used to its full potential.
In a real world example of the success, of educational applications for Chrome, the Leyden High School District from Illinois has begun to equip its 3,500 students with Chromebooks, small laptops designed, by Google, to browse the web via Chrome. The laptops represent a powerful, and cost effective, tool in the move for 1 to 1 learning in public schools. The Illinois district chose to use the Chromebooks, over other laptops, because of the easily accessible kit of educational applications, such as Easybib, and Pearson’s OpenClass, that are available in Chrome.
At present, there are over 500 school districts in Europe and the U.S.A. that use Chromebooks to aid their students, and the list, of participating school districts, are growing every day.
Google’s demonstration at the ISTE wasn’t all just success stories; the internet company knows the importance of moving forward, and showed some of the new features coming, to help teaching with Chrome. The most notable of these features is the level specific application packages. These bundles are organized, by educational grade level, to best suit different classrooms, and are easily installed from the Chromebook’s management console.
Thanks to Google’s direct involvement, many of these are free, or come at a discount, for group purchases. Google also demonstrated the organization specific application collections. These collections are created, by the individual school administrations, so that schools can recommend specific applications to students, which might be overlooked by the broader grade level lists.
Google has been a feature at the ISTE for many years now, and, if this year’s showing is any indication, should continue to be for many years to come.
Chromebooks and the Chrome browser are pioneering the way for a digital classroom experience that is affordable to all schools.