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Jamie Littlefield

Google Chromebooks for Online Students: Are They Worth It?

By May 22, 2011

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On June 15, Google will begin offering what could be a revolutionary computing device: the Chromebook. Chromebooks are web-based laptops designed to be used exclusively with web applications. Instead of running software from a hard drive, Chromebooks require users to log onto internet apps or (eventually) run traditional software programs from a web-based service.

Next month Google Chromebooks will be available to consumers at prices as low as $429. But, are Chromebooks worth the cost?

One of the benefits of Chromebooks is their ease of use. The system automatically updates whenever it is used. User data is stored securely in the cloud and won't be lost due to a computer crash (an experience almost every college student has panicked about at least once). Additionally, Chromebooks are designed to work well online and have a long battery life.

On the downside, Chromebooks don't have the same functionality as traditional laptops. Users can't simply install their favorite programs (that means you'll want to get used to Google Docs and forget about installing Microsoft Word). The machines are almost completely web dependent, so your laptop may not be particularly useful if the internet goes down or you don't have 3G coverage.  Finally, while not particularly egregious, the $429 price tag is comparable to that of traditional laptops that may offer more functionality (or at least the kind of functionality most consumers expect).

Will you buy a Google Chromebook? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Comments

May 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm
(1) Walter Lambert says:

Re: Chromebooks. I teach both online and hybrid courses. Some of my students already use Google Docs and netbooks. I will likely purchase a Chromebook so I can experience cloud computing with my students. In addition, it appears to me that online education is growing, and the cloud is where apps and support systems will dominate.

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