Something came up at my gym this week that has my wheels turning. Yes, I’m still going to the gym. That’s the one interaction I’m currently willing to risk, but I digress. Many of the patrons there are teachers and an ongoing discussion in warm-ups has been about how the pandemic will change the upcoming year.
Of course, the precautions and safety are the main concerns. However, the topic quickly evolved to the tech students will need if forced to stay at home. And the almost unanimous answer was Chromebooks. This is the one constant for students whether in the classroom or at home.
Google has won the classroom
When I was in school, you had one, maybe two, PCs in the class running Windows. You also might have one at home if you were lucky. Either way, Microsoft was more than likely running that machine. The company had a stronghold on the entire PC market, but specifically business and education.
Over the last five years, that paradigm has shifted. IT departments in education are often underfunded for both hardware purchases and maintenance of services required to run a traditional desktop. This left a huge opening for a fairly cloud-first operating system like Google’s Chromebooks.
Google recognized this need and has spent the last several years entrenching itself in the educational sector. The company offers G-Suite for education to school districts around the United States at a very high adoption rate. It’s paired this initiative with extremely affordable hardware that can handle the cloud-centric operating system making it perfect for schools.
Built for the unexpected
Chrome OS is much less dependent on hardware than Windows. With only your account information, you can have almost instant access to everything you need within minutes of logging into your Chrome OS device. This makes it easily manageable by admins and super clean experience for the kids too.
Johnny needs to get some work done on his Chromebook at home. Easy. Just log in and get to that homework assignment in Google Docs. His laptop fails in a week or gets stolen. Just as simple to issue him a loaner or replacement. Within minutes Johnny is back up and on that same Google Doc.
This also makes it very seamless to deploy if students need to work from home to complete the school year at this time of the pandemic. Many educational districts already have a one laptop per student policy and can easily translate those hardware resources for kids at home.
Even if the school-issued hardware fails, the magic of Google’s cloud could technically run anywhere. As long as you can get access to a web browser, students can perform their assignments regardless of the system. Windows, iPads, or even my favorite Linux systems are all capable of using G-Suite for Education.
Trying times with a familiar solution
Google couldn’t have planned on the COVID-19 virus shocking the globe. None of us did. However, the company has created an amazing combination of cloud software and almost disposable hardware to make sure the education of our children doesn’t stop.
And in its own way, it’s given our kids a familiar option in uncharted territory. They will be forced to learn how to adapt to many of the solutions offered if they have to do at-home learning, but learning a new operating system won’t have to be one of them. They just need Google and an internet connection.