The new Samsung Chromebook - a great device for school and education

For the last week I have been using a new Samsung Chromebook in school (not with students, just for myself as a teacher) and it has been mostly - with the exclusion of some hiccups - a great experience. It combines the lightness, simplicity and speed of a tablet with the versatility of a laptop. Of course, not without making some compromises. So, here is what the Chromebook is not
  • a substitute for full blown PC and therefore not likely to be your sole device 
  • a status symbol as it does feel a bit cheap (or rather corresponds to the price tag of $249)
  • a device you would want to have unless you feel at home in the cloud and you have got wi-fi access at home and at school

Having said that this little netbook with a great keyboard and an even greater trackpad has surprised me with how many task I like it using for.  As it is instantly on it is particularly useful when you have tasks to do that don't typically take longer that booting a slow PC and logging into the school's network, including sending an email, taking a couple of notes, getting organized and doing research work online.

If you are familiar with the Google apps and Google Chrome you can start to work straight away. Here is what I've been using the Chromebook for:

  • staying organized with calender, tasks and email
  • writing my preparations in Docs
  • creating presentations for my classes in Slides (quite a hassle free experience)
  • using drive to access files (from pdfs to mp3 for listening comprehension)
  • research (Google Search, Google Translate, Wikipedia, etc.) 
  • entering students' grades and assignments into a Google spreadsheet
  • blogging (in fact I'm writing this review on the Chromebook)

This list basically covers all my needs as a teacher. Students, of course, could additionally choose from hundreds of educational apps on the web, such as voki, sliderocket, prezi and many more.

The  Chromebook is very light and you can carry it around just like a tablet, without cables and connectors. The battery lasts for 6 hours, which should get you easily over one school day.

The only problems I have had so far were occasionally slow connections, connection timeouts (disconnecting and reconnecting resolved the problem) and inserting an image into blogger directly from the webcam. My verdict: 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

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