By Erin Klein
I have recently begun watching a new television show on AMC called Halt and Catch Fire, set in the early 1980s. Without giving away too many details or spoilers about the show, I can tell you that the main characters’ purpose in the drama is to create the world’s first laptop computer. The original idea for a laptop was something along the lines of a computer stored in a small suitcase, and the goal was to have it weigh 15 pounds or less. As the designers worked on the device, naysayers scoffed at the notion that a computer could be built at small and proposed astronomical costs.
Fast-forward three decades, and we are living in a world of smartphones, tablets, and superpowered computers that are smaller than a holiday catalog. The advancements in technology keep coming, and they are progressively more impressive and user-friendly. Just a year ago, I wrote a review about Chromebooks; and now, as I just received a new one from IntelEdu to review, I have found that they have improved it again just in the past year.
Keep in mind as you are reading this review that I am not a technology specialist. The ideas shared here are from my perspective as a classroom teacher. I may miss sharing a specification or technical term. My goal is to share the features of an Intel-powered Chromebook that I would put to use in my classroom. I am a mom, and I teach second grade. This review is honest and straightforward.
Upon receiving the Chromebook, something stood out to me as I unboxed it. I knew Chromebooks are incredibly lightweight, but I soon became curious as to which actually weighed more, the computer or the computer’s cord. I couldn’t figure it out because they were so close in weight, but I still find it remarkable that we are not very far removed from laptops that required their own bags, and now we have a computer that may actually weigh less that its own cord. This may seem like an obvious detail, but if you have small children, you know how difficult it can be to manage their backpacks. Every ounce counts on their little backs; and if your child is bringing a laptop to and from school, this is a great one to choose, as it takes very little space and effort to transport.
When putting the Chromebook to use, other details that are excellent advantages for any classroom became clear. First is the touch screen. My previous Chromebook did not have a touch screen, which often tripped up and discouraged students who have grown up in an era of smartphones and tablets. Children assume that screens are touchable now, and touch screen technology is available on Intel-powered Chromebooks. This feature enables those who are not yet experienced with a keyboard—or even more so, a track pad—to participate and interact with apps and programs.
Second, Chromebooks are fast. The ability to boot it up in seven seconds allows teachers to make use of the Chromebook spontaneously—in situations where they weren’t originally planning to use it. Nothing can disrupt a good class discussion or meeting than spending five minutes trying to boot up a computer; but with this Chromebook, you can log on before anybody notices you have even moved. Every second counts in the classroom, and this device enables you to make the most of them.
Another feature that I found appealing is the 7.5-hour battery life. As many teachers who are one to one with technology know, charging can easily become a distraction. Most elementary classrooms meet for four to seven hours once per day, so the longer battery life means that a fully charged Chromebook will last for your entire teaching day. This long battery life is a great feature, as it means that you—and your students—need not be permanently tethered by a cord.
Amazing Points about the Chromebook
- The price is low and affordable.
- It is super lightweight and easily slides into a backpack.
- It boots up fast—and we all know how each second counts in the classroom.
- Many of the applications can be run offline.
- It has a built-in security monitoring system.
- Thousands of user-friendly apps are available.
- Convenient touch screen provides the feel of a tablet with the functionality of a laptop.
- You can access your content anywhere, anytime—everything is saved “in the cloud.”
One last feature that was a major selling point for me (and I would be remiss if I left it out of this review) is the setup guide. In my opinion, a device will not catch on in an elementary classroom if it is difficult to use. And that is why I was so impressed with the setup guide for the new Chromebook. It is a grand total of four pages, including a front and back cover, and includes about six steps for getting the device up and running. It took me longer to enter my Wi-Fi password than it did to get the Chromebook started. There was no reading, no frustration, and really no effort at all. It was easier to get the settings personalized and connected than it is to start many apps.
All in all, I was very impressed with the efforts to make this a user-friendly device and to provide quick and easy solutions for both teachers and students. I would recommend the Intel-powered Chromebook for K–5 classrooms as a potential crossover alternative to both traditional laptops and tablets.
Currently working in education, with a business background, Erin Klein values the importance of integrating technology and global preparation into the learning environment. Being an involved person, she streamlines her creative teaching ideas into project-based applications that enhance the academic standards.
The focus of her master of education degree is curriculum and instruction. She has researched best-practice teaching methodologies and traveled the state, presenting to educators on how to create twenty-first-century learning environments that will help shape the future of our practices in education. See more at: http://www.kleinspiration.com/p/meet-erin-klein.html#sthash.eSH1vZoe.dpuf