Why Chromebooks are Perfect for Teachers and School Staff

I’m a big advocate for students using Chromebooks in schools, but why limit them to students? They are not only the perfect device for students, they are fantastic for teachers, administrators, and other school staff as well. I often get push back when I talk about faculty and staff using Chromebooks. Mostly fear of the unknown tends to be the reason. Can teachers really use a Chromebook as their primary device for school?

Teachers are constantly told to use this, implement that, and incorporate xyz. It’s often a lot easier to make mandates than it is to put them into practice. Therefore, I’ve decided to put the Google Chromebook to the test by using a Chromebook as my primary device. Now, a Chromebook is not the right device for every school employee. Similarly, it is not the right device for every student project or class. That said, it’s perfect for most cases.

The Best Chromebook for Teachers

If I wanted to stack the deck I’d find the beefiest, most advanced Chromebook on the market to use. However, that would discount one of the important factors when buying devices in bulk….price.

I remember times when Macbook users would tell me how much better their $1,200 Macbook was than the $350 Windows desktop I was using. For the difference in price…I would hope so!

I’m not going to compare the specs of an affordable Chromebook to a Macbook or a Windows laptop. That’s not the point of these posts. We are focusing on whether or not a Chromebook can meet the teaching and administrative needs of school faculty and staff.

The best Chromebook for teachers and staff is the one you can afford. That’s the bottom line. Touchscreens are nice (sometimes), but if the cost isn’t in the budget, skip it. The number one request I’ve had of teacher Chromebooks is a larger screen than the 11″ models we buy for students.

For my primary device Chromebook, I’ll be using a HP 14 G5. Mine has a 14″ touchscreen and 4GB of RAM. This has become the standard Chromebook I have purchased for teachers using Chromebooks.

The HP 14 G5 has two USB ports (one one each side), two USB-C ports (one on each side, a micro SD card slot and a standard headphone/microphone jack. The Chromebook can be charged using either USB-C port.

Why Use Chromebooks for Teachers and Staff?

Until recent years we provided each teacher a desktop in their classroom. These desktops have connected to an ever-evolving list of projectors and interactive devices. In the last few years we have moved to providing laptops in our renovated and new schools. After years of supporting Windows PCs, Windows laptops, and Chromebook, I’ve learned all three have something in common…..they all break. Sorry, but its true. They are no different than any other machine.

It’s a numbers game. You may have a personal computer that works for years without issue. We have those results in schools too. The problem is the number of devices. If you have 40 teachers and staff all with devices used 10 hours a day, 5 days a week…the odds of not having problems aren’t good.

I’ve complied a list of helpful troubleshooting tips for Chromebooks, but if a Chromebook needs repair, a teacher has to use another one. This is where a Chromebook ranks #1 compared to all other devices. In just minutes, a teacher can log into another Chromebook and have access to all of there files, bookmarks, apps, and extensions. Everything just like it was on their previous Chromebook. No tech support needed.

Rarely do I shutdown my Chromebook. When I’m done, I just close the lid. Chromebooks have an incredible battery life, even when in standby. If my Chromebook ever starts running slow or freezing up I can quickly shut it down and turn it back on. In fact, you force a quick restart by pressing just two keys on your keyboard. I’m back up and running again in 10 to 15 seconds.

Everyone Loves a Chromebook

Having supported iPads, netbooks, laptops, and tablets over the years, I’ve realized that Chromebooks have done something no other device has done. They have managed to be loved by all three of these groups…..end users, tech support staff, and financial departments. The end user experience is great. Tech support can manage hundreds of Chromebooks without physically touching them. Plus, with at least a 2:1 cost ratio verse traditional laptops, tightening budgets can go farther.

Chromebooks Do Have Their Limits

I mentioned earlier that Chromebooks are not for everyone or every project. Though most of the software using in schools is web-based, some do require installation. Processing power can also be issue for some software. Maybe your technology elective teacher needs a more powerful Windows laptop for the Adobe software they are teaching. No problem! That doesn’t mean that your other teachers, administrators, and staff can’t use Chromebooks.

The same goes for student projects. 95% of the digital work and research students need to do in school can be done using a Chromebook. For the other 5%, take your students to the computer lab. It’s likely available now that students have Chromebooks to use for other work.

The Bottom Line

If a teacher believes that the only way to type a paper is to double click on the Word icon on the desktop, that they must have Internet Explorer, or that important files should be saved to a flash drive, then a swap to a Chromebook is going to be a huge transition. I’m not saying don’t do it. In fact, these cases may be reason you should make the change.

If you’re already saving files to the cloud, hate always having to find a laptop charger, don’t want to wait for updates or be told you don’t have the rights to do something, then give a Chromebook a try.

Oh, I forgot to mention one thing. If you have ever used a Macbook or Windows PC, you already know how to use a Chromebook. Sure, there are some differences, but you’ve got the basics already. I’ll help you with the rest. For starters keyboard shortcuts are a big help. There are just few in my Chromebook Shortcuts You’ll Use Everyday post that you you should memorize right away. For you overachievers, read through the whole list. You’re likely to learn at least one new trick.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Dave Carty

K12 district technology administrator, Google domain admin, Certified Google Trainer.

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