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Hardware Thread, Any good alternatives to iPads for school in Technical; Originally Posted by Iosoma What are your thoughts on the Google Chromebooks? They are now 229 to retail and can ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iosoma View Post
    What are your thoughts on the Google Chromebooks? They are now 229 to retail and can be leased. You get full flash and a real keyboard.

    I have one of the earlier generation chromebooks and can see how they would really suite education. There are some shortcomings, but not as many as using iPads etc.
    I'm in two minds and really unsure about Chromebooks. I was going to suggest them to SMT instead of tablets at one point but I think there might actually be more pitfalls.

    1) Must have an internet connection
    2) Keyboards destroyable by pupils
    3) Netbooks costs about the same and run a full Windows OS

    For me, there is something about the form factor of a tablet that, once you get to a 1:1 ratio, I don't think can be beat. A bit like every teacher having access to powerpoint, a projector and an IWB in every classroom.

    That said, I want to like them...

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    Curry's are doing the 64GB Playbooks for 129. No easier to manage than iPads, and far fewer apps (that may be an advantage) but if you just want an internet device with media playback and basic capabilities it may be worth considering.

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    hi guys,

    iPad Mini is now out, and visible on the Apple site. when we get a chance to play with one we'll know more. I've been playing around with the Puffin browser for iPad, which does seem to work with Flash content like MyMaths and might be worth a look. Sadly I think some of the posts on this thread are correct. Flash has a future for Adobe, but delivering web based content is not necessarily in it! Yes Apple are forcing the move to HTML5, but they were not the only company with concerns about Flash.

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    @ tmcd35

    If you are thinking of deploying a few devices and your teachers or IT staff are willing to re-image, reset to factory condition annually and install apps on them or oversee your students do it, then Windows laptops or iPads are fine. However if you are deploying 20 or more, then Windows or iPads become a problem in terms of maintenance overhead and app installation, and the cost and time burden it places on teachers and school IT staff. Chromebooks are Zero Maintenance, Zero Touch devices (means that IT staff never need to touch, log into, configure, install apps on or re-image a Chromebook), and they don't even need a local Windows authentication server or mail server to be set up to provide domain email and domain authentication and access control.

    Basically what I am saying is that if you are happy to maintain them, or spend school time with your students doing it, then Windows laptops and iPads are fine. If not, you are better off with Chromebooks.

    Deploying Windows (or Mac) laptops in 1:1 deployments for schools in the US has proven to be impractical in the US due to the difficulty in finding sufficient IT staff to support them and the high salary cost of the IT staff required to support them. This is why the 1:1 deployments have gone with Chromebooks.

    I would stay clear of Windows netbooks and budget Windows laptops. They are slow, and have poor build quality, and have poor battery life - fine for cash strapped consumers who are only worried about the sticker price, but they will cost schools more in the long run through breakages and poor student/teacher productivity. That's why businesses won't touch them. Basically hardware is dirt cheap, but IT or teaching labour isn't. By buying Windows netbooks or budget Wundows laptops, you are saving pennies on hardware cost to throw away pounds on maintenance and support costs. In the US, schools that deployed Chromebooks to replace Windows PCs/laptops found the Total Cost of Ownership of Chromebooks to be about 30% of that of Windows laptops/desktops.

    If you want keyboards that are destroyable by students, then consider Chromeboxes with a cheap USB keyboard and mouse. Of course Chromebooks can be switched out and replaced with zero effort if they get broken. All you need is to get a new one by post and have your student log into it - all his/her data, settings, apps will be right there on logging in.

    Internet connection is important for Chromebooks. However the reality is that in most places broadband Internet connection is more reliable than electricity mains supply. You can for example also set up Internet access to be shared between two ISPs one using ADSL and the other using a cable modem to increase Internet availability further as some businesses do when Internet is critical - although this is rarely necessary for a school. However you do need to get expert advice on Internet connectivity and wireless access point deployment in school if you are talking about a large scale deployment. You should speak to Google Education Benefits ? Google Apps for Education and ask for advice on this. I presume they will put you through to a reseller who would be able to advise on this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPM View Post
    @ tmcd35

    If you are thinking of deploying a few devices and your teachers or IT staff are willing to re-image, reset to factory condition annually and install apps on them or oversee your students do it, then Windows laptops or iPads are fine. However if you are deploying 20 or more, then Windows or iPads become a problem in terms of maintenance overhead and app installation, and the cost and time burden it places on teachers and school IT staff. Chromebooks are Zero Maintenance, Zero Touch devices (means that IT staff never need to touch, log into, configure, install apps on or re-image a Chromebook), and they don't even need a local Windows authentication server or mail server to be set up to provide domain email and domain authentication and access control.

    Basically what I am saying is that if you are happy to maintain them, or spend school time with your students doing it, then Windows laptops and iPads are fine. If not, you are better off with Chromebooks.

    Deploying Windows (or Mac) laptops in 1:1 deployments for schools in the US has proven to be impractical in the US due to the difficulty in finding sufficient IT staff to support them and the high salary cost of the IT staff required to support them. This is why the 1:1 deployments have gone with Chromebooks.

    I would stay clear of Windows netbooks and budget Windows laptops. They are slow, and have poor build quality, and have poor battery life - fine for cash strapped consumers who are only worried about the sticker price, but they will cost schools more in the long run through breakages and poor student/teacher productivity. That's why businesses won't touch them. Basically hardware is dirt cheap, but IT or teaching labour isn't. By buying Windows netbooks or budget Wundows laptops, you are saving pennies on hardware cost to throw away pounds on maintenance and support costs. In the US, schools that deployed Chromebooks to replace Windows PCs/laptops found the Total Cost of Ownership of Chromebooks to be about 30% of that of Windows laptops/desktops.

    If you want keyboards that are destroyable by students, then consider Chromeboxes with a cheap USB keyboard and mouse. Of course Chromebooks can be switched out and replaced with zero effort if they get broken. All you need is to get a new one by post and have your student log into it - all his/her data, settings, apps will be right there on logging in.

    Internet connection is important for Chromebooks. However the reality is that in most places broadband Internet connection is more reliable than electricity mains supply. You can for example also set up Internet access to be shared between two ISPs one using ADSL and the other using a cable modem to increase Internet availability further as some businesses do when Internet is critical - although this is rarely necessary for a school. However you do need to get expert advice on Internet connectivity and wireless access point deployment in school if you are talking about a large scale deployment. You should speak to Google Education Benefits ? Google Apps for Education and ask for advice on this. I presume they will put you through to a reseller who would be able to advise on this.
    This really does sound like a Google sales pitch if I'm honest. You're comparing two things that are completely different....

    Chromebooks are zero-touch? Well so is a Windows laptop that doesn't need software installed.
    Chromebooks don't need domain/servers etc? Nor does a standalone laptop etc, if you're not deploying software or managing them in any proper way.
    Chromebooks cheaper to support? Not needing to support any device is the same cost, user supporting chromebook, vs mac vs pc where's the cost?
    Replace Chromebook with another one Just like replacing any factory standard laptop with another, (Using online storage). Again anyone can log onto "insert cloud storage" and their items are there.

    Every part of the arguement is only relevant when you're comparing it to a full fat, managed, software installed device. Which isn't what the chromebook offers in the first place.

    You can't (unless I'm mistaken, and without use of things like Terminal) install any software that you may want/need, e.g. Photoshop/SIMs/blahblahblahblah.

    If all you are after is a bogstandard, non-managed/changed device with online storage, everyone has one to offer. Whether apple, linux or MS. It's only be installing additional items, or configuring specific items that it starts needing management. Use the standard config, you have a backup partition ready if needed, and you have online storage, yet a whole lot more than a chromebook too if you want.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Iosoma View Post
    What are your thoughts on the Google Chromebooks? They are now 229 to retail and can be leased. You get full flash and a real keyboard.

    I have one of the earlier generation chromebooks and can see how they would really suite education. There are some shortcomings, but not as many as using iPads etc.
    The way I think of it Chromebooks are a natural for education:
    1) The Internet is a the biggest repository of knowledge and information out there, and education is about allowing students to access knowledge. OK some teachers don't like students looking anything up on the Internet because of the emphasis on coursework in the dumbed down education system in the UK, and alleged copying of coursework from the Internet, but that is a different issue.
    2) Kids have an amazing capacity to mess up installed computer OSes. Maybe it can be put down to curiousity, maybe intent, but whatever the case, if it can be messed up, and in many cases if it can't, they will mess it up. Chromebooks are the best client devices in this sort of hostile environment.
    3) Chromebooks boot up quickly - three minutes out of each 50 minute class to boot up is quite a lot of time.
    4) Chromebooks allow teachers and students to focus on teaching and learning instead of the OS or the device. There is no user data management required as user data is segregated in the cloud and is associated with the user rather than the device. There is not end user device maintenance required with Chromebooks, and desktop user support requirements are minimal.
    5) Chromebooks are stateless devices can be managed centrally via a web interface. iPads store user data locally and install apps locally, and are not suited to centralised management as a result. For example when iPads are passed from one student to another at the end of the year, they need to be reset and apps need to be reinstalled.
    6) Chromebooks have a proper keyboard. This is important for content creation. Tablets are primarily content consumption devices and are more convenient for use holding it in one hand while using the other for touch. This is useful primarily when standing up or sitting in a train for example. When sitting on a desk, or holding with a pencil in one hand, it is less convenient to use than a laptop form factor which is self standing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    This really does sound like a Google sales pitch if I'm honest. You're comparing two things that are completely different....

    Chromebooks are zero-touch? Well so is a Windows laptop that doesn't need software installed.
    Chromebooks don't need domain/servers etc? Nor does a standalone laptop etc, if you're not deploying software or managing them in any proper way.
    Chromebooks cheaper to support? Not needing to support any device is the same cost, user supporting chromebook, vs mac vs pc where's the cost?
    Replace Chromebook with another one Just like replacing any factory standard laptop with another, (Using online storage). Again anyone can log onto "insert cloud storage" and their items are there.

    Every part of the arguement is only relevant when you're comparing it to a full fat, managed, software installed device. Which isn't what the chromebook offers in the first place.

    You can't (unless I'm mistaken, and without use of things like Terminal) install any software that you may want/need, e.g. Photoshop/SIMs/blahblahblahblah.

    If all you are after is a bogstandard, non-managed/changed device with online storage, everyone has one to offer. Whether apple, linux or MS. It's only be installing additional items, or configuring specific items that it starts needing management. Use the standard config, you have a backup partition ready if needed, and you have online storage, yet a whole lot more than a chromebook too if you want.

    Steve
    I don't know if this is a shill post, but it is one of the dumbest posts I have ever seen.

    1) First of all Chromebooks are all fully managed , securely authenticated, locked down, centrally managed (for Google Apps for Domains) client computers - equivalent to the most heavily secured, centrally managed Windows device - except the server hardware and admin personnel for all this is free and handled by Google. There is no such thing as a fully disconnected and unmanaged Chromebook which the poster is comparing with a fully disconnected and completely unmanaged Windows laptop with no applications installed on it, claiming that both have an equal maintenance cost of zero.

    2) Chromebooks are client-server devices that are designed to run applications on the server by default. Windows on the other hand runs applications locally, so Windows laptops without applications installed can't do anything useful, while Chromebooks can. For offline apps, Chromebook caches the apps and app data locally rather than requiring installation. Unfortunately it is true that not installing Windows applications will not prevent Windows running some applications at least - namely viruses, worms, and assorted malware - which will run rampant along with pirated software installed by students if Windows laptops are not managed - at the very least by setting an administrator password and requiring using that account to install applications. This is not a problem with Chromebooks because they are fully managed and securely locked down.

    3) Windows laptops which are not fully locked down and authenticated are open to abuse. If you give out Windows laptops to students without locking them down and without authentication both for the user to prevent his/her user data and user settings being tampered with and for the administrator to prevent the OS and system settings being tampered with or infected by viruses and other malware, it won't be more than a few months before you need to re-image pretty well every device you handed out. This is even higher maintenance than the high maintenance secure authentication and lockdown of Windows PCs and laptops which is used in a typical business environment. Even locking down of laptops without network authentication and a network authentication server is expensive on maintenance because the administrator needs to log into each desktop to install apps. Windows is high maintenance whatever your do.

    4) Because the user data is stored locally on a Windows laptop/PC, when you hand over a laptop from one student to another you need to delete local user data, install apps that one student may need that the previous one doesn't. With Windows, this requires either user data management by the administrator, or re-imaging of the hard drive when laptops are transferred to another student or to another class which typically happens every year. With Chromebooks, students simply hand in the Chromebooks, and the new students pick them up (zero maintenance, zero touch). This is possible because Chromebooks ate stateless devices, and all user data, user apps, and user settings are stored on the server and accessed by the students unique password. You can also if required reset the Chromebook to factory condition, delete all local drive data, and reinstall a fresh OS image simply by pushing the reset button at the back with a hairpin.

    5) I am not sure what sort of IT system the poster provides at the school he clasims to work for, but if he is simply unboxing laptops and handing them out to students and telling them to administer and maintain their computers themselves in order save money as he is advocating, then the school would be well advised to go the whole hog and sack him and delegate the unboxing to the students, and save themselves a boatload of money on IT staff salaries. A lot of "Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists", I have come across are just sales persons who can't do much more than pitch sales, and whose "training" and "certification" is little more than training and certification on how to pitch for Microsoft sales. From the contents of his post, this guy looks very much like one of those.
    Last edited by SPM; 31st December 2012 at 01:03 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPM View Post
    I don't know if this is a shill post, but it is one of the dumbest posts I have ever seen.

    1) First of all Chromebooks are all fully managed , securely authenticated, locked down, centrally managed (for Google Apps for Domains) client computers - equivalent to the most heavily secured, centrally managed Windows device - except the server hardware and admin personnel for all this is free and handled by Google. There is no such thing as a fully disconnected and unmanaged Chromebook which the poster is comparing with a fully disconnected and completely unmanaged Windows laptop with no applications installed on it, claiming that both have an equal maintenance cost of zero.

    2) Chromebooks are client-server devices that are designed to run applications on the server by default. Windows on the other hand runs applications locally, so Windows laptops without applications installed can't do anything useful, while Chromebooks can. For offline apps, Chromebook caches the apps and app data locally rather than requiring installation. Unfortunately it is true that not installing Windows applications will not prevent Windows running some applications at least - namely viruses, worms, and assorted malware - which will run rampant along with pirated software installed by students if Windows laptops are not managed - at the very least by setting an administrator password and requiring using that account to install applications. This is not a problem with Chromebooks because they are fully managed and securely locked down.

    3) Windows laptops which are not fully locked down and authenticated are open to abuse. If you give out Windows laptops to students without locking them down and without authentication both for the user to prevent his/her user data and user settings being tampered with and for the administrator to prevent the OS and system settings being tampered with or infected by viruses and other malware, it won't be more than a few months before you need to re-image pretty well every device you handed out. This is even higher maintenance than the high maintenance secure authentication and lockdown of Windows PCs and laptops which is used in a typical business environment. Even locking down of laptops without network authentication and a network authentication server is expensive on maintenance because the administrator needs to log into each desktop to install apps. Windows is high maintenance whatever your do.

    4) I am not sure what sort of IT system administrator the poster provides, but if he is simply unboxing laptops and handing them out to students and telling them to administer and maintain their computers themselves in order save money as he is advocating, then the school would be well advised to go the whole hog and sack him and delegate the unboxing to the students, and save themselves a boatload of money on IT staff salaries. A lot of "Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists", I have come across are just sales persons who can't do much more than pitch sales, and whose "training" and "certification" is little more than training and certification on how to pitch for Microsoft sales. This guy looks very much like one of those.
    So once again, You just slag off anyone who disagrees, and compare different things... Nice, and mature, and once again showing that they aren't comparable items as I already said.

    Maybe if you spend more time reading my post, and less trying to slag off microsoft it would help promote chromebooks? For example, how you use other software that schools want/need e.g. MIS (SIMs etc)? How a school can limit certain students access to internet? Anything that a normal school wants, not just here's office go with it.

    Anyway as no doubt you'll just spam rubbish again won't bother.

    Steve

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    Re: Any good alternatives to iPads for school

    Just seems like someone wanted to make a post about Google products being awesome and everything else is carp.

    Here is one for chromebooks. People in schools don't want everything to be internet based as it clogs and bottlenecks the pipe. So offline applications and saving, logging in etc. How is it done?
    Last edited by nephilim; 31st December 2012 at 01:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    Here is one for chromebooks. People in schools don't want everything to be internet based as it clogs and bottlenecks the pipe. So offline applications and saving, logging in etc. How is it done?
    The bandwidth for google apps is actually quite minimal. When we converted 2000 we were expecting a large rise in internet bandwidth but it only turned out to be around 5-10MB/s over what we used to see. Each 10Mb/s increase in bandwidth costs us 1000 so the google apps wasn't a real issue. Authentication is local and of course we have redundant internet links. You can also save Google apps stuff locally to a mapped drive and have that sync to the cloud using google drive if you wish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve21 View Post
    For example, how you use other software that schools want/need e.g. MIS (SIMs etc)? How a school can limit certain students access to internet? Anything that a normal school wants, not just here's office go with it.
    We use a published app over Citrix for SIMS. It works rather well on Chromebooks.
    Chromebooks work with proxyconfig so internet access isn't an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nephilim View Post
    Just seems like someone wanted to make a post about Google products being awesome and everything else is carp.

    Here is one for chromebooks. People in schools don't want everything to be internet based as it clogs and bottlenecks the pipe. So offline applications and saving, logging in etc. How is it done?
    HTML5 (AJAX) applications like Google Docs use minimal bandwidth because they only send up edit keystrokes and only receive data to update the portions of the screen that have changed, and even this is in the form of characters rather than a bitmap. General Internet browsing is also fairly low bandwidth, and downloading of things like images don't happen simultaneously for all users.

    The things that take up rather more bandwidth is video streaming and remote access. If you want to use Citrix Receiver, RDP, VNC, or Chrome Remote clients simultaneously for a large number of users, and your Internet bandwidth is really low, then you may want to trial it first, or consider local Windows Terminal servers or Citrix servers rather than an Internet hosted solution for Windows applications, a Squid video cache proxy or local media server if you use instructional videos a lot, or aggregate bandwidth from a number of broadband connections. The latter is probably the best solution. However it is unlikely you will need to do this, and you won't have a problem if you use Google apps rather than mass use of cloud hosted Windows apps. Universities use hosted Windows apps accessed by Citrix a lot since it saves having to install apps on and to support students' BYOD laptops, and it solves piracy issues connected to giving out software to students to install on their own client machines.

    You do need enough to make sure there are enough WiFi access points though. It is worth speaking to Google Domains for education resellers for advice if you are planning a really large roll out.

    Offline logging in is achieved by caching the password locally, just like Windows laptops.
    Last edited by SPM; 1st January 2013 at 12:54 AM.

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    Great discussion. We're also thinking about getting Chromebooks to replace some of our ageing laboratories. Someone mentioned that it's possible to mount local network drives via ChromeOS, how is this done? Can you point me to a resource that explains this? Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by prandelicious View Post
    Great discussion. We're also thinking about getting Chromebooks to replace some of our ageing laboratories. Someone mentioned that it's possible to mount local network drives via ChromeOS, how is this done? Can you point me to a resource that explains this? Thanks!
    Chromebooks can't mount local Windows network drives, but they can access local web servers or web based content servers like NAS servers sharing files via HTTP or web based course content or document servers like Moodle, knowledgetree, or Alfresco. However, broadband access is generally very reliable in this country and HTTP for document access is low bandwidth, so you can normally outsource these services to external cloud service providers and save yourself the hassle of maintaining local servers. You can also use web based remote access software (eg. Citrix Receiver or Ericom Access Now) to run Windows applications on a local Windows Terminal Server if necessary. It is also possible to outsource Windows application access (Ericom can provide MS Word and Excel for example), but network bandwidth needs to be checked if this is done over the Internet.

    However Google Apps for Domains is free for education, provides domain emails, domain user management, domain file sharing with user and group permissions, intranet web pages, discussion groups, Google Docs, spreadsheets, presentations etc. and is effectively a no brainer for anyone deploying Chromebooks. Basically it for educational institutions, it gives you the equivalent of a MS AD domain with the same services all for zero hardware cost, zero maintenance cost, and zero software cost (the hardware is Google's servers and is maintained by Google), so it should be the starting point, and most schools won't generally need anything more. see Products ? Google Apps for Education

    The Google Apps for domains environment and a web based remote access solution for Windows applications is perfect for BYOD as well, using Windows PCs, Macbooks, or Chromebooks work equally well, since installing the Chrome browser gives all the same access and user experience on all devices. This means you can mix Chromebooks for students with their own Windows, iPad and Macbook BYOD devices and use of their own home computers, and the school's own high end PC workstations in the video or CAD computer lab which can allow students access to all their resources on all devices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPM View Post
    Chromebooks can't mount local Windows network drives, but they can access local web servers or web based content servers like NAS servers sharing files via HTTP or web based course content or document servers like Moodle, knowledgetree, or Alfresco.
    This is what we do: mount our shared drive into moodle so that students can access the resources onto any device.

    The issue that we have at our school is that students home devices (or BYOD) cannot read the documents that staff create. This is important for homework and for students devices in lessons. An example is that a member of staff creates a boardworks or powerpoint file, but the student cannot access it on their own device. We cannot dictate to parents what device they should buy, so we are left with one or two options: One is office 365 - but this is severely lacking in functionality - particularly in terms of collaboration if staff and students are not all running MSOffice and sharepoint. The other is Google docs which happily integrates with everything (so far). I've yet to see a student bring in a device (blackberry, IOS, Windows, Android,Chrome) that we've not been able to integrate with our infrastructure. Caveate is that we also run Citrix Xenapp for the occasion google doesn't cut it.

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