School & District Management

Chromebooks for New York City Schools Gain Stamp of Approval

By Benjamin Herold — November 24, 2014 2 min read
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The country’s largest K-12 public school system has added the Chromebook to its list of approved computing devices for schools, capping a stellar month for the inexpensive, web-based laptop.

“We saw that many schools wanted to use Chromebooks, and in our assessments, found them to be an affordable, manageable option for learning,” wrote Hal Friedlander, the chief information officer for the 1.2 million-student district, in a post published on the official Google for Education blog.

“We want the schools to have choices —whether it is a laptop or a tablet or both—across price range and functionality,” Friedlander wrote.

The New York City Department of Education is also now officially supporting use of Google Apps for Education, a suite of web-based tools for email, word processing, file storage, and other tasks.

Earlier this month, Education Week took an in-depth look at the rise of Chromebooks in K-12. The devices, which typically cost under $300 per unit, rely on Google’s Chrome operating system and web-based storage and applications. Proponents of the devices tout the ease of managing large deployments of them and the ways the laptops and Google Apps for Education support student and teacher collaboration.

But concerns remain about the effectiveness of Chromebooks without robust wireless connectivity at both school and home, as well as Google’s continued lack of clarity as to whether it is data-mining student email messages for some potential commercial purposes.

During the second quarter of this year, Chromebook sales in K-12 for the first time surpassed sales of Apple’s iPad, the dominant device in the education market.

The New York City system is not centrally purchasing Chromebooks, but adding central support services for schools that decide to use them.

“The educators who live in the community and teach students every day have the best ideas about what they need in technology, not a guy like me who works at the 30,000-foot view. The job of my team is to support technology choices that will help the schools,” Friedlander wrote in his blog post. “From a central office perspective, we authorized Google Apps because it integrates easily with our existing systems and we find it very easy to manage.”

Photo: Students use Google Chromebooks during an advanced 6th grade reading class at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg, Md.. on Nov. 6.--T.J. Kirkpatrick for Education Week

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.