Chrome for the Holidays

Photo Credit: http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromebooks.html

Photo Credit: http://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromebooks.html

Google Chromebook hit the market heavily this year. With the $250 price tag and fast startup, this is a very intriguing product for schools, and families are sure to have equipped students with this computer over the holidays.

The Chromebook is used primarily while connected to the Internet since it runs applications through the browser. According to CNET, this is a great computer for users who are comfortable with apps and documents living in the cloud, such as Google Docs. While the Chromebook can be used offline, functionality is greatly diminished. Relying on the Internet connection to function well is a bit worrisome to me. We all know how reliable some wireless Internet connections can be, especially in schools or on the road. Even 3G is troublesome around my town.

There are a few points to know if you are considering a purchase for a student:

  • Remember the heavy need to be tied in to the Internet for many functions. There is a 3G version; you may need to consider that upgrade.
  • Some elements created in Flash do not perform properly, and support for Flash varies between manufacturers. Google says they officially support Flash, but during internal testing, Flash did not always behave as expected.
  • Java is unsupported by Chromebook, causing Java-based course components not to function.
  • Programs designed for the Windows and/or Macintosh operating systems won’t function on the Chromebook operating system, but there may be apps that perform the same functions.

For schools looking at a Chromebook purchase, Google has a great resource: Chrome Devices for Education, which gives great detail on the considerations for educational deployment. You can always check the FLVS hardware requirements for additional guidance on choosing the right computer at http://flvs.net/areas/faqs/Pages/HardwareRequirements.aspx.

For me, I’m sticking with my MacBook for now. I don’t think I’m ready to make the leap entirely to an Internet dependent device. I’ll keep my iPad as a second screen device, but watch this market for further developments.


Jennifer WhitingJennifer Whiting, Chief Technology Innovation Officer, joined FLVS in 1997. Her chemistry course was the first offered by FLVS. Over the years, she has assumed many roles including Instructional Design Specialist, Project Manager of large instructional technology projects, Director of Information Systems, Chief Academic Officer, and Director of Customer Experience. She is committed to keeping FLVS on the cutting edge of technology and effective pedagogy.



4 comments on “Chrome for the Holidays

  1. richard bryan

    Are there any middle school courses offered by FLVS that are not compatible with Chromebooks?

    Is it possible to get a trial version of a course to try it with a Chromebook?

    Reply
  2. Jennifer WhitingJennifer Whiting

    Hi Richard!

    Florida Virtual School technology and courses make use of a wide variety of features and technologies, such as Java, Flash, HTML5, CSS2/3, and depending on the course, other specialized components that help you achieve a more immersive learning experience. Our Hardware Requirements page (http://flvs.net/areas/faqs/Pages/HardwareRequirements.aspx) currently says that Chromebooks won’t support our variety of media in our courses. This page was updated this summer, so I expect this information to be current:

    “In general however, lightweight devices such as Google Chromebooks or Nooks that have very limited technology support for Java or Flash, will not be compatible with the majority of our courses.”

    There is a browser check on the Hardware Requirement’s page that may help see what the browser is capable of.

    As to your question about a trial course, It would help me to know your role…are you a parent, school administrator, teacher? Email me privately and I’ll assist (jwhiting [at] flvs.net).

    Reply
    1. Charles Cornett

      Any update on this issue? Chromebooks are becoming more and more accepted. They certainly hit a lot of marks for parents (simple, quick, durable, cloud based). The lack of Java seems to be the only roadblock, and lots of major web developers are moving away from Java for security reasons. Any news on whether FLVS will embrace the Chromebook concept and get away from Java?

      Reply
      1. Marissa DraegerFLVS

        Hi Charles,

        Our curriculum team does take more lightweight tech devices into consideration when developing courses. That said, we don’t specifically support Chromebooks or any other specific devices for our courses as an organization. Java isn’t used as often as flash, so it isn’t always a concern and many modules can still be accessed on these types of devices. As we develop new courses, we intend to rely less and less on external media and plug-ins. Regardless, we do thank you for your feedback and input!

        The FLVS Team

        Reply

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