Education Week - November 12, 2014 - (Page 10)

DIGITAL DIRECTIONS > Tracking news and ideas in educational technology Chromebooks Meeting Needs Of Md. District CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 nonprofit based in Mason, Mich., that provides assistance to districts implementing student-computing initiatives. "I don't think it's the endgame, but it really is the next big thing," Ms. Wilson said. Of course, not everyone is convinced. Chromebooks run exclusively on Google's Chrome operating system, requiring a significant switch for many schools and districts that have long depended on Microsoft products. Concerns about the devices' durability, limited processing power relative to traditional laptops, and reliance on Google's Apps for Education tool suite, which has come under fire for its handling of student data, have also given some districts pause. And perhaps most significantly, Chromebooks offer little internal storage, instead hosting applications and data on external cloud servers. That means that robust Internet access, still lacking in many schools and communities, is essential to successfully deploying the devices. "The challenge with a Chromebook is you really need that wireless infrastructure in place at the very beginning, or the device has some challenges," said Ryan J. Imbriale, the executive director of innovative learning for the Baltimore County, Md., schools, which recently committed to spending more than $200 million on hybrid laptop-tablet devices the district believes will better suit its teachers and students. In the Classroom Sherwin A. Collette, the chief technology officer of Maryland's 151,000-student Montgomery County school system, said that for years he's been "the guy in the middle of the intersection saying 'Hold up!' while everybody else was pushing iPads." In July, the school district announced that it would spend $15 million on nearly 40,000 Chromebooks for students and staff this school year, with plans to expand throughout grades 3-12 in the near future. Maryland's decision to administer online common-core assessments this year was a major impetus. But Mr. Collette said the decision to go with Chromebooks was driven primarily by the type of instruction his district wants to see in its classrooms. "We value community, collaboration, and partnership," he said. "So the question became, 'What best helps us to do that?' " The initial answer, Mr. Collette Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads By Michele Molnar Two of the nation's most recognizable technology companies are increasingly locked in a battle for supremacy in the education market-one that pits Google's Chromebook laptops against Apple's iPad tablets. For the first time, K-12 shipments of Chromebooks equipped with Webbased operating systems surpassed iPads in the third quarter of 2014, which ended Sept. 30, according to International Data Corporation, a Framingham, Mass.-based company that provides market analysis. The research firm defines shipments as products that have been received by schools for use by students. "If I had to pick two important devices that are really fighting with each other, I would pick Chromebooks and iPads," said Rajani Singh, a senior research analyst at idc who follows trends with personal computers and the program they use. During the third quarter of 2014, which includes the back-to-school season of July through September, Apple shipped 702,000 iPads compared to the 713,000 Chromebooks that other manufacturers shipped for K-12 education in the U.S., she said. To some school officials, the battle among companies for market share is a positive development. "Competition is extremely helpful with this industry," said Sheryl R. Abshire, the chief technology officer for the 34,000-student Calcasieu Parish, La., district. Districts can "leverage competition," she said, which helps school systems "do more with less" money. Her district has a contract with Dell Inc., is currently running a Chromebook pilot project, and has continued to buy iPads as well. A spokesman for Apple declined to comment on Chromebooks' gains in K-12, or overall competition in the market. Apple has been dominant in the K-12 tablet market in recent years, controlling an estimated 94 percent of the market last year at this time. But that number had slipped to 85 percent in the third quarter of this year, idc reported. Microsoft Windows-based operating system devices also have been affected by Chromebooks' popularity. In the third quarter, shipment of devices loaded with Microsoft's Windows dropped to a 51 percent market share this year from a 63 percent market share in 2013, Ms. Singh said. More to Come? Competition among makers of devices in the K-12 market is likely to grow in the years ahead, said Michael J. Fisher, associate director of the education division of Futuresource Consulting Ltd., a U.K.-based research and forecasting business. Android tablets loaded with Google Play for Education are entering the market, he noted. Costcompetitive Windows devices are being released. And more manufacturers like Lenovo, Asus, and Acer are launching convertible devices per that lines the outside of the Lenovo device's case, and the overall durability of the Chromebook. that can operate as laptops, or as touch-screen tablets when detached from the keyboard. At the same, districts are becoming more discerning buyers, choosing from a variety of devices with an eye toward which tools will help them meet specific instructional goals, rather than just going with the first impressive-looking device they come across, said Leslie Fiering, research vice president at Gartner Inc., a research and advisory company based in Stamford, Conn. "I don't think [districts are] going from fad to fad to fad," she said. Districts considering whether to purchase Chromebooks today are likely to weigh a variety of factors, including whether they have existing contracts with manufacturers. The Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indianapolis recently chose Lenovo X131 Chromebooks over those offered by HP, and Dell, said Peter A. Just, the chief technology officer for the 16,000-student district. The decisionmakers liked the rubber-bumShifting Priorities While the "price point is always a consideration," Mr. Just said, durability and functionality were more important factors. The price of iPads prevented the district from considering them, he added: the Apple devices are like "state-ofthe-art Cadillacs," and "we can't afford to buy a Cadillac at this stage of the game." IPads' prices in the consumer market vary from about $250 to $830 per unit, depending on the features included, according to Apple. School prices generally vary by model and features, as well as by discounts available within the education market, the company said. Chromebooks generally sell to schools for between $200 and $399 per device. Futuresource reports that most schools expect to pay under $300 for a Chromebook, excluding the cost of the management license, though some schools are willing to pay a higher price for features like more processing power, Chromebook screens glow in a 6th grade English class at Ridgeview Middle School in Gaithersburg, Md. 10 | EDUCATION WEEK | November 12, 2014 | T.J. Kirkpatrick for Education Week

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - November 12, 2014

Education Week - November 12, 2014
Republicans Enhance State-Level Advantage
Broad Poverty Index Gives Fuller Picture Of Stressed Schools
Chromebooks Gaining Popularity in Districts
Key Obama Priorities Facing Lack of Allies
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Close Screening Process Can Improve Teacher Hires
Study Finds Few Payoffs in Short-Term Career Certificates
Blogs of the Week
Chromebooks Ascend in K-12 Market to Challenge iPads
Perceived Threat to Net Neutrality Sparks Furor
GOP Leaders in Congress Outline Education Priorities
More Than $60 Million Later, Scant Payoff for Teachers’ Unions
California Chief’s Win a Bright Spot For Teachers’ Unions
Election 2014 Results
Blogs of the Week
RANDI WEINGARTEN: Collaboration Takes Two
FATIMA GOSS GRAVES: Overlooked and in Need: Black Female Students
JOE FELDMAN: Grading Standards Can Elevate Teaching
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
APRIL BO WANG: What About Helping Rural Schools?

Education Week - November 12, 2014