The Pros and Cons of Chromebook in Education

Technology in the teaching space is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. And Chromebooks have made significant strides in education with features such as affordability, longer battery life, and ease of use. While setting up and managing other devices such as laptops and desktops is complex and tedious, school IT administrators can leverage the Google Admin Console to handle administration tasks easily and quickly.

Using a platform such as Parallels® Desktop for Chrome OS can also help increase the usability of Chromebooks. Discover the pros and cons of Chromebooks in education and how IT administrators can use them to simplify IT management in this post.

Pros of Chromebooks in Education

Chromebooks provide a simple and robust solution for computing, allowing students and educators to access the resources they need for the classroom. Below are four pros of Chromebooks in education:

1. They are affordable.

Compared to traditional laptops, Chromebooks are less costly. This is because the Chrome operating system (OS) is lightweight and does not require demanding hardware specifications. This means they are less expensive to manufacture than average laptops.

Besides, Chromebooks have inbuilt cloud-based security, so schools don’t purchase security tools such as enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions and antivirus software. Schools transitioning to Chromebooks can also adopt Google Workspace for Education, gaining access to a complete suite of productivity applications at an affordable monthly subscription rate.

2. There are a wide range of Chromebooks that can fit the budget and needs.

When Chromebooks launched nearly ten years ago, many observers routinely derided them because of their limited functionalities and reliance on steady internet connectivity. However, current Chromebooks are increasingly offering practical solutions for everyday needs.

Today’s Chromebooks have virtually all the features that educators and learners want in a traditional laptop, such as solid build quality, perfect keyboard, long battery-life, and high-resolution displays. You can also access upscale Chromebooks with better processors, more storage, and other features such as 2-in-1 convertible designs that serve as tablets.

For example, learners in creative arts may prefer a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook because it is convenient for drawing and sketching when used as a tablet. Science-based learners may find a traditional Chromebook clamshell better suited for word processing and internet access.

3. They have a better battery life than most laptops.

A typical Chromebook has a battery life of 10 to 12 hours. It would cost you more on standard Mac computers and Windows PCs to get such staying power. Again, this is because of the low-impact Chrome OS that consumes less CPU and RAM.

Also, Chromebooks have small internal hard drives, which means they don’t consume much power. Long battery-life enables learners to use them for many hours without the need for charging.

4. Chromebooks can be optimized for learning purposes.

Education-focused Chromebooks can simplify management tasks and optimize learning environments—even in hybrid learning situations. With Google Admin console, school IT administrators can set and enforce policies and settings, including Wi-Fi, proxy settings, and access to authorized applications. This allows students to work through their lessons with minimal distractions.

Ways that Chromebooks Make IT Administrators’ Lives Easier

While low cost is the primary factor that made Chromebooks gain traction in educational institutions, these devices also deftly address one problem that IT administrators often face: management of endpoints. Chromebooks provide enterprise-class security features that minimize the need for IT support and administration.

For example, key features such as inbuilt security chips can protect school data, while sandboxing ensures that applications run in isolated environments. If malware crops up in one application, the issue does not spread to the entire system.

IT administrators can also leverage Google’s Admin Console to manage Chromebook deployments from a single pane of glass. The associated benefits of using the Admin Console include the ability to:

Cons of Chromebooks in Education

Chromebooks are still not as capable as traditional PCs at some tasks, despite their other benefits. Below are four cons of using Chromebooks in education:

1. Many applications have limited offline capabilities.

The Chrome OS is inherently cloud- and web-based. This means the OS is not as functional when the Chromebook is offline. While students can still use Gmail and access and edit Google Drive files while offline, many applications such as web-based Microsoft Office and Outlook cannot work without an internet connection.

2. Chromebooks have limited storage capacities.

Google designed the Chrome OS as a minimalist operating system leveraging cloud-based storage. As such, most devices can only support up to 128 GB. While vendors can minimize device costs because of this feature, students who are desperate for more storage capacity can’t get that with Chromebooks.

3. Most Chromebooks have less processing power.

The majority of Chromebooks have basic processors that limit them from running memory- and graphic-intensive applications. While you can buy Chromebooks with powerful processors (including Intel Core i5 or i7), it would cost you more than typical low-end Chromebooks used in schools.

4. Students cannot access useful Windows-compatible applications.

Chromebooks don’t allow IT administrators to install full versions of Windows-based applications such as Word, Excel, or OneDrive. While you can still access some of these applications through the web browser, Chrome OS doesn’t provide the native features that you expect when running them on Windows laptops.

Increase the Potential of Chromebook in Education with Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS

Chromebooks have defied expectations and made significant inroads in classrooms because they are cheap, easy to manage, and easily optimized for learning. However, they face one challenge: Windows-based programs—a familiar choice of applications for most learners and educators—can’t run natively in Chrome OS.

There is simply no alternative for students and teachers that want unfettered access to full-featured Windows-based applications, even with the development of web-based solutions and other effective workarounds.

Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS bridges this gap by bringing native Windows applications and other legacy enterprise software to Chromebooks. When installed in Chrome OS, Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS allows Chromebook users to run full-featured Windows applications—whether online or offline. Take a look at the system requirements.

Using Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS is also cost-effective for schools because IT administrators use Google’s Admin Console to manage the Chromebooks. This means that schools don’t incur the extra costs of purchasing EMM solutions and the added complexities of getting Windows add-ons up and running. IT administrators can also leverage inbuilt protection mechanisms provided by Google such as automatic updates and sandboxing to avoid costly antivirus software. However, it is important to note that Windows administration does need a separate solution such as Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM) or Intune.

Download a free Parallels Desktop for Chrome OS trial today, and experience how it improves the usability of Chromebooks!