MacBook vs. Chromebook

So it’s been almost 6 months since the last post and I think that’s a pretty fair chunk of time to observe how the Chromebook and Android tablet have performed in the classroom. There really aren’t any surprises here and what I’ve observed won’t really break any new ground.

tl;dr Chromebooks are less expensive. MacBooks are more functional.

When the Chromebook made it’s first appearance in our classroom many students got excited. Instant on and easy login were a big plus. No need to wait for Windows Network Authentication and a spinning HD to load an OS. These things also hold a battery charge like a real champ. Even under heavy use I only need to plug this in once a week. Under normal use I charge it monthly. It’s at this point where the Chromebook seems to start losing its lead in the race.

Students use them for creating presentations, writing, accessing our online learning platform, and that’s about it. In the Junior Math curriculum there’s a little bit of work on spreadsheets, but not a whole lot. That’s it. Even when I try to work above the line in a SAMR model it seems like quite a stretch using a Chromebook. They just weren’t designed for that.

This is a problem. Technology use in the classroom should be more than just substitution. A lot more.

Using a MacBook, or a similarly equipped Windows device, we are able to work above the line and redesign our learning tasks to take full advantage of the power we have available to us. Using tools iMovie and GarageBand the opportunities just open up and are only limited by our imagination and creativity.

Then there’s the price. Unfortunately the least expensive MacBook is 5 times the price of a Chromebook. For most schools the cost is the bottom line. Even Tim Cook’s old school has switched from MacBooks to Chromebooks. Then there’s teacher training. What’s the point of using a MacBook for word-processing all the time? Then there’s IT support. Lots of school boards out there still prefer supporting only one flavour of OS. Some are downright nasty about it.

So Chromebooks seem to be enjoying the path of least resistance, but at what cost?

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