What is a Chromebook

What is a Chromebook

One of the most challenging things about the Chromebook is explaining what it is to people. When they see and interact with it, the initial reaction is that it is a laptop. This reaction brings with it a wealth of historical expectations.

But as Google says, the Chromebook “looks like a laptop, feels like a laptop, but…”. And that “but” is key.

Because if we see it as a traditional laptop and place comparisons on it from that perspective*, we are unable to explore all the things it can do because we get stuck on what it can’t do.

A Connected Learning Device?

My experience with the Chromebook is that it is a connected learning device rooted in the belief that the Internet is the future minded classroom; that thought, word, and deed are foundational; and, that the Google Experience along with Agency are key.

Connected Learning

And a connected learning device-centric environment rooted in those beliefs seems to provide both a feasible and effective opportunity for engaging learners with emerging and connective technologies 


*By no means am I comparing this to a Macbook laptop like I’ve seen time and time again. If cost and support are not obstacles, the Macbook is a perfect choice. I love my Apple laptop and would never compare the two. To do that is to the miss the point entirely.


  1. Hi Ryan-

    Interesting post. We have three sets of Chromebooks for 5th through 7th graders in an “in-school” one to one program. The students love them! Very low maintenance costs, easy device management, long battery life, fast start up, etc. make them a really good choice for our kids and my school overall. We’re focused on free/ultra-cheap web-based resources, so the Chromebooks fit right into our strategic plans, too. To your point, we are also moving pretty quickly away from the ‘what they can’t do’ mindset (a short list…) to concentrate on all the things they can do, and we’re happy campers…

    • You hit on the key – “right for your school”. It is difficult for many (including myself) to set aside what we personally like or what makes sense in an individual classroom. But we must look at the scope of the overall direction of the school when making a wide-scale adoption.

      This is challenging especially when we want to honor the uniqueness of each classroom. However, it is a must.

  2. Your point about us, “getting stuck on what it can’t do.” is a good one. $249?! That is insanely cheap for what you get. Given your experience and educational background do you think there is a tipping point price that will push most schools into 1:1 or are the other barriers like high speed internet access still too large?

    • Thanks for the presentation to my administrative team, Jack. I’d love to catch up a bit more.

      As for the price, I actually think there are two items happening:

      1. if the price included the Chrome management console and perhaps starting point costs with apps, 249 would be widely welcomed by schools I believe
      2. however, there are at least three factors that also need to be included:
      a. textbooks (whether I like it or you like it, this is a legit issue that schools want to address digitally. The Chromebook needs to be serious within this framework.
      b. bandwidth and wifi access (Google Fiber has potential for this in many ways)
      c. leadership briefings that build partnerships. Yes, there are academies and summits but these are heavily focused on teachers. There needs to be visioning, roadmaps, and partnership building with schools. Apple has cornered the market on their ability to offer both the teacher initiatives and support while offering those higher level conversations that aren’t focused on tools.

      This is simply my take but schools are interested (I think) but how they go about fully understanding of it isn’t as clear as it is with Apple. Given Apple’s consumer and educational marketing campaign, they offer a level of comfort (perceived or reality) at the starting point that makes it easier to think about them first.


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