One in five devices sold to schools last year were Chromebooks; that’s a huge jump from the year before

Samsung’s Chromebook 2 uses the same “stitched” design found in the company’s Galaxy Note line of tablets.

Education sales of Chromebooks, the lightweight laptops that run software from the internet instead of a local hard drive, have skyrocketed in the last year—and Chromebooks now account for 19 percent of the devices sold to schools last year, according to Futuresource Consulting.

That’s up from 1 percent of education sales in 2012, Futuresource says.

Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome operating system, and applications are delivered to the devices through a Software-as-a-Service model. All information is saved continuously as students work, and software updates occur automatically.

Chromebooks come with built-in access to the Google Apps suite of web-based software, including Search, Gmail, Docs, and Drive. Chromebooks are solid-state devices but offer Flash storage, so students and teachers can work offline as well. What’s more, the devices boot up very quickly, so little class time is wasted waiting for the machines to operate.

For many school IT personnel, the central management capability of Chromebooks is a key advantage. Using a single interface, IT staff can create user groups, push out applications to students’ devices, blacklist or whitelist applications, track assets, manage logins and passwords, and change network and device settings. The management console allows IT administrators to change or upgrade every Chromebook at once, or to target groups of them or even a single device.

This central management capability is “a very attractive option for IT departments in schools,” said Kelly Kovnesky, supervisor of network operations for the Mukwonago Area School District (MASD) near Milwaukee, Wis., in a case study. “The management console saves time and effort.”

With Common Core testing looming next year, MASD officials began looking for affordable technology to deliver the online exams to their 4,700 students. They chose Samsung Chromebooks, purchased through CDW-G, and are rolling out 900 of the devices via carts at each school.

Education sales of Chromebooks could see another boost as Samsung unveils its second-generation Chromebooks today. The Samsung Chromebook 2 doubles the amount of RAM contained in the company’s first-generation device and increases the battery life by up to two hours, among other enhancements.

(Next page: More details about the Samsung Chromebook 2—and a special offer on Chromebooks from Acer as well)

Dennis Pierce

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