Helping Educators Get the Most out of their Chromebooks

Google Chromebooks have become the most popular mobile PC in the K-12 market in the US, surpassing 58% market share. Chromebooks are also capturing a growing share in the U.K, Canada and other developed markets around the world.

It’s not hard to see why: with stripped down Chromebooks aimed at the K-12 market starting at $149 and Google providing free or cheap access to a wide variety of education-oriented apps and resources, Chromebooks can help stretch school-system IT budgets, and can help bring technology to even the poorest of school districts.

Chromebooks are also popular with school system IT departments – they’re easy to deploy and easy to manage, as well as being very secure by design.

There’s one major challenge in widely adopting Chromebooks: they may not do everything an educator wants. Chromebooks, by definition, run on the Chrome Operating System rather than Windows, and as such they don’t support Windows or Java-based applications. Many school districts rely on those technologies to support existing student information systems (SIS), learning management systems (LMS), and testing/assessment software. Teachers may also require access to a variety of specialized Windows or Java-based applications in different subject matter areas (e.g., IBM SPSS or MathWorks MATLAB).

There is a way to have your cake and eat it too. HTML5 clientless connectivity to hosted Windows desktops and applications allows schools to reap the benefits of Chromebooks and Google’s support for K-12 education, and still be able to run Windows and Java-based apps. Students, teachers and administrative staff can easily access the resources they need without installing or configuring any software on the Chromebook.

Given the challenges of providing tech support for hundreds or thousands of teachers, students, and staff on a limited budget, this “clientless” approach is also an ideal alternative to traditional computer labs. For instance, Hapeville Charter Schools in Atlanta found that they didn’t have the physical space — or budget — to keep expanding their computer labs and meet the increasing demand for access to online courses and testing software. They turned to Chromebooks and Ericom’s HTML5 access solution to meet their educational objectives, without needing to add space or place excessive burdens on their IT team. According to Justin Ross, the schools’ IT Administrator, “As a clientless solution, AccessNow was easy to deploy and provides flexibility as well as centralized management and control, all which are important to me given our limited IT resources.”

The challenge that faced the East Haven Public School District when migrating from Macs and PCs to Chromebooks was that their SIS, PowerSchool Gradebook, runs on Java — which isn’t supported on Chromebooks. Ericom’s remote access solution for Chromebooks provided a way for the district to enjoy the advantages of Chromebooks, without losing access to their SIS.

Pairing Chromebooks with the right remote access solution gives K-12 educational institutions the best of both worlds – the low cost and ease of use of Chromebooks with the ability to run legacy and other applications that need Windows or Java.

 

Read more: Download our free white paper to learn what makes Chromebooks and HTML5 access technologies a winning combination for educational institutions.

Author | 32 Blog Posts

Daniel Miller

Director of Product Marketing | Ericom Software

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