I am starting to field a lot of questions about our 120 + Google Chromebooks that we have purchased for our school district, so I figured I would answer these questions here, for all to see and share.
Which model and why?
For us, we went with the Samsung Chromebook series 5 Wi-Fi. . Since these are not 1-to-1 take home devices in our district so the 3G was not a feature we were looking for. I have not had a chance to look at the Acer models in person, but we chose the Samsung model for it's longer battery life. Acer does offer a better price point, so those are definitely worth looking at. (As a side note... this is the first time I have ever had to call Samsung for tech support... but WOW... A real English speaking person in about 20 seconds every time... Kudos to Samsung on this one!)
Why the Chromebooks?
There are some limitations with each device, just like the iPad has it's limitations. For long battery life, 8 seconds to log-in, and trouble free operation... we have been sold on the Chromebooks and love them so far. To maximize their use, you really need to like the Chrome web browser type interface and plan on living on the cloud with Google Apps, Evernote, Dropbox, Diiago (My blog on Diiago here.) and other cloud services. One of the most overlooked features of the Chromebooks I blogged about here. For a 1-to-1 device they may be the only device I would consider for our school district. (Battery life and low tech maintenance top the list.) Personally I love the iPad, but I do not think it is a very good 1-to-1 device.
I love the Chrome Browser.
Being able to sync bookmarks, Chrome Apps, Chrome Extensions, history and more.... what's not to like? There are so many awesome extensions that add to the functionality of web computing. Here are just a few from our web site.
Where did you buy them from?
Right now, there are 3 companies that sell them, and we purchased them out-right for our district. As a school district we could purchase or lease them directly from Google. If you purchase them from Google and have the Google Apps for Education, those Chromebooks will show up in your admin console where you have some management capabilities for them. (Set proxy, etc... ) In our situation and deployment, this was not a feature we required, but may be something we would definitely want if we deployed them in a 1-to-1 program for students.
Cloud is a concept and must be taught?
Really.... Really.... Yes... Really. Probably the hardest thing for a teacher to do, it to get used to going to the cloud (In our case Google Docs.) to start a new document. They still want to click on the start menu and open up their favorite word processor, spreadsheet, etc... These Chomebooks definitely help with forcing people to the cloud. Students love the cloud... but teachers just need to be slowly moved to the cloud. One there, they like it.... but it is a process.
One final thought, I believe that Google Apps is a game-changer for schools, (Along with a lot of other cloud services.) and these Chromebooks just help with that game. For more info, there is a nice YouTube video with more info on the program in schools: http://goo.gl/y7ndZ