Chromebooks in K12

I started working actively on K12 education about five years ago when a few of us helped start The Academy For Software Engineering. Early on in that process, I made it a point to visit about a dozen high schools around NYC and talk to the Principals and teachers in those schools. I was curious about a lot of things, mostly how you make a good school (answer is hire a great Principal), but also what kind of tech infrastructure was in the schools.

On the latter point, I learned that most schools had broadband and wifi, but the implementation was often poor and in need of significant upgrade. The good news is that many K12 schools have seen significant investments in broadband and wifi in the past five years through a number of federal, state, and local programs. But there is more to do on this point.

In terms of computers, I saw a range of approaches. There were computer labs where an entire room was outfitted with desktops. Windows machines were quite common but so were desktop Macs. But most schools were using laptop carts. They look like this:


The ones I saw in use in the NYC public schools generally hold thirty laptops and power cords.

Teachers would wheel one of these carts into their classroom and students would grab a laptop and use it for the entire class and then put it back.

Five years ago, most of the laptop carts I saw were filled with MacBooks. I was aghast when I saw that. I did the math and assumed that a laptop cart filled with Macs was costing these schools something on the order of $30k or more. And someone had to manage all of the downloaded software on these devices. It seemed like an expensive and painful solution.

It was around this time that Google launched its first Chromebook. I told everyone who would listen to me that putting inexpensive Chromebooks in these carts was going to be a better solution. An added benefit of using browser based software on these devices is that the student can grab any device in the cart, log in using their email address, and immediately be provisioned with their work and applications in the cloud. It seemed to me that this was going to be the way to go.

I read today that Chromebooks are now being used by 20mm students.  I have no idea what percent of those are in the US, but if we guess 50%, then that would be 10mm students in the US. There are somewhere around 50mm K12 students in the US, so that suggests that Chromebooks may have penetrated 20% of classrooms in the US. That is encouraging to me.

More and more software is coming to market that makes learning more fun in the classroom. A good example of this is our portfolio company’s Quizlet’s Live tool that allows teachers to create real time learning challenges in their classrooms. Much of this software is free to use with premium upgrades (freemium model!) and can drive down the cost of curriculum for the schools and teachers.

But you need computers in the classroom to make this stuff work and the Chromebook is a much more affordable and manageable solution than a laptop. I am thrilled to see the K12 system adopting them.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ana Milicevic

    I was still at the UN when the One Laptop Per Child project was being rolled out – we’ve come a long way from aiming for devices that cost ~ $100 (at the time it seemed like too ambitious of an idea) to that being feasible.I’d go one step farther – given that access to devices can still be a major impediment to learning how to use them is there a scenario where each child in public school is assigned a Chromebook they can also take and use at home w/ a reasonable replacement schedule?

    1. fredwilson

      many students are using inexpensive smartphones in their homes instead of expensive computers. quizlet’s tools, for example, work just as well on a smartphone as a laptop

      1. jacopogio

        yes, the “a computer for each student” is already there => their smartphones ! What we need is to build on that instead of waiting for a laptop for each of them, no ? 😉

      2. awaldstein

        I don’t know Fred. Writing papers, creating web pages, collaborating with teams on a phone ain’t easy–at least for me. A tablet maybe but a phone i still find stifling for this.

      3. LE

        Don’t agree with you on this one. As Arnold points out there are many many important things that require the use of at least a laptop in the creative process whether writing or coding. Using anything less than that gives you a handicap.Back in college I was able to convince the teacher to allow me to use a typewriter to type answers to test essay questions. I was the only one doing that. I got to even sit in a separate room. (No medical reason either, just sold her on the idea). I hated to handwrite and it helped me quite a bit. Ditto for being the only one to use a dial up terminal at home hooked up to the college mainframe to write papers (when others were using a typewriter at home). This actually led to a business idea I tried after graduation.

  2. Mike Zamansky

    Putting in a plug for neverware ( They started with thin clients and now have a usb stick to effectively turn an old PC into a chromebook.They’ve done a nice job helping to extend the life of old devices and to lower administrative time and costs.

    1. ShanaC

      I never thought I’d see the day where Jon’s startup would be mention on avc. I remember him from high school… I should email him…Technically speaking the usb stick could do windows or Linux, if I remember the advice he was given by my father…way back when he was actually working on this in his parents basement and when they did thier first clients…

      1. Mike Zamansky

        I just reconnected with him a couple of weeks ago.We actually met pretty randomly when he was based out of GA. Chance would have it that I knew an assistant principle who’s school could use something like he was building and I think that was his first entry into the DOE.

        1. ShanaC

          Tell him Shana (pronounced SHAY-nuh) Carp is engaged

  3. jason wright

    my Toshiba Chromebook is now my only ‘laptop’. it just works. printing can occasionally be a bit of an issue using Google’s cloud printing service, but apart from that it’s a good experience. i was going to upgrade to the Google Pixel 2 but then G announced recently its demise. now i’m sitting on my hands waiting for G to announce a successor. apparently it goes by the code name of ‘Bison’. i was a little disappointed that nothing was said at this week’s Made by Google gig, and nothing about Andromeda either. i could go for the Pixel C when it gets Nougat. i’m wondering if G is holding back until Apple announces its new Macbooks and might then do an immediate surprise release to pop A’s bubble.although i am now trying to be exclusively a mobile phone user i do still sometimes need a full size keyboard and larger screen for ‘real’ work… and commenting.

  4. dow hardy

    For our company, primarily K-8 non-tablet, we are:65% Windows27% ChromeOS8% Mac

  5. William Mougayar

    Clouds and Virtual Machines, that’s the future! Try switching smartphones. Everything syncs in the cloud.Try Blockchain programming. Your code runs on a virtual infrastructure.

    1. awaldstein

      No argument in concept.Not reality that the future of technology will be pioneered in public education though.As a product of public schools and having a son who went to one. I know I am correct.Or was at least.

      1. William Mougayar

        Well, the linkage here is that if students are exposed to connecting via cloud based apps and virtual dependence, then they take that with them as they grow and enter the workforce.

        1. awaldstein

          Every student today uses Google docs for everything in public schools.Nothing needs to change in order from them to be net natives for shared cloud based docs.Already there.

          1. William Mougayar

            Right, but the chromebook is bit more radical, as the user is forced to be in the cloud, whereas a GoogleDocs user may or may not be totally dependent on it.

          2. awaldstein

            Help a sixteen year old with her homework on line and get back to me. Hardware doesn’t mean shit.What matters is the process and internalizing the collaboration as an extension of her thinking.

          3. William Mougayar

            “What matters is the process and internalizing the collaboration as an extension of her thinking.”- Agreed, so the chromebook helps to facilitate this collaboration, no?

  6. pointsnfigures

    Not sure but Apple used to a have a program for education. Agree, getting commoditized computers that work into the hands of school children is more important than branding.

    1. LE

      Agree. Apple sells to education at a lower price than list price (how much I don’t know). However my guess now is that they are so distracted with the profit they are making on other things they are asleep at the switch here.The idea in giving away computers in schools is that the kids become familiar with and then are more likely to buy the full price product later after they graduate or are in college. That actually worked for Apple. Even if it’s a loss leader.

    2. Vasudev Ram

      IIRC, Apple made their first few hundred million largely in the education and home market. Had read an old long article on Apple and Steve Jobs in their early years, in National Geographic, years ago. With photos of Apple II’s, their office / factory and Steve. With longer hair and a blacker beard then 🙂 I remember one of him riding a motorbike.

  7. JimHirshfield

    My son’s school switched from school provided PCs 5+ years ago to parent provided Macs… And then this year to parent provided Chromebooks. Working out well.

    1. LE

      to parent provided Macs…That is how you know you are in (ironically) a school district with high property taxes (like we are as well). The school can get away with getting the parents to buy things like that. Where I live 1/2 of the high property taxes go to the schools.

  8. Dave Murrow

    Yep, my kids’ school district uses what you show above in their classes. And we’ve got a Chromebook in the home as well. Works well for all of us.

  9. falicon

    My kids switched to the public school system this year (the private Catholic school they were going to closed at the end of last year)…and my 5th grader is the test class for 1-to-1 Chrome books (they are LOVING it). They take it home each night (and the teachers/admin love it because of the cloud-based control of everything).Next year, 3-8 grades will be 1-to-1 Chrome books.Affordable, great control/admin/monitoring, easy-to-use, and centrally accessible/portable data…what’s not to love about the future of tech-in-education!?

    1. JLM

      .An interesting thing in what you have written is the closure of the Catholic school. The Catholic school I went to in grammar school (whereat I won the 5th grade poetry contest) was auctioned off recently. I almost — almost — bought the son of a bitch.It is a great loss to America.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. falicon

        Yep – numbers were heading down year-after-year and we finally hit the tipping point this last year…we were *really* hoping to make it one more year (since my oldest is now in 8th grade and the high schools all start at 9th around here)…but it was still a good lesson/life-experience that you have to take the punches, adopt, adjust your dreams/hopes/goals and learn to thrive regardless…

        1. JLM

          .Of course, middle school is the important way station on the road to an education.If they come out of middle school knowing how to write, study, do a bit of math then the rest of it is just a matter of work ethic.Also, it’s good if they’ve been physically beaten by some nuns. I fondly remember some good beatings from Sister Anne de Beaupre — deserved. Every one well-deserved. Father O’Connor got a few good licks in for himself.If I had it to do over again, I’d send my kids to private school for middle school and turn them over to the dogs for the rest of their education. It would have all worked out fine.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Lawrence Brass

            Boy, beaten by nuns? I hope the church pays your shrink expenses.Caning was a common practice in the school I went to, it was abolished some three or four years later. Some friends that went through the punishment still remember it.

          2. JLM

            .Nuns use yard sticks but they aren’t very fast and you can out run them. Caning is more violent.We should probably form a MeetUp group, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. LE

            I would guess that the vast majority of people who got beaten by nuns didn’t suffer any extreme impact or go on to abuse others. Just a guess. Of course those that are weak might have all sorts of bad reactions and issues later but we can’t step away from something that overall might be a solution (not saying canning is, just arguing the point) to a problem because it’s not 100% good in all cases. That’s actually one of the problems in modern day, people expect perfect outcomes with no side effects.Trump got into trouble the other day when he somewhat mildly said that some people who served overseas maybe shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Now maybe that’s not practical or possible but people are different and you can’t run away from that. Or look at the downside and not just the upside of any particular decision.

          4. JLM

            .His comments were taken out of context and were perfectly appropriate and correct. I have more than a passing familiarity with the subject.People are exposed to all kinds of bad stuff and it impacts them. It always will. It’s called life.Me? I’m afraid of clowns with chainsaws but that’s me.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. JLM

            .Most chainsaws are for shit. They don’t work.If the clown has a Husqvarna Rancher chainsaw. Be afraid.Be very afraid because that chainsaw works and cuts like Hell.I lent the location for the filming of one of the sequels to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.It was a parking garage scene and I lent them the garage of the Littlefield Building in downtown ATX.No clowns involved and, no, the guy didn’t use a Husqvarna Rancher. But, he could have.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          6. Lawrence Brass

            I know a case of a guy that was beaten by nuns and then had this obsession of beating people that were peacefully trying to drown. 😉

          7. Lawrence Brass

            Yep, we should start thinking about a name.

  10. Tommy Chen

    I was initially not a fan of Chromebooks when they hit the market but I’ve come around to it. It’s a great low cost and low maintenance solution for students. These schools will need a beefy network connection if they are so reliant on the cloud though.

  11. Humberto

    I think its pretty nice to reach many students..But in hardware you pay for what you get. Low cost “web machines” as an assumption assumes Hardware and OS are irrelevant, which it doesn’t seem like its a good assumption going forward.

  12. Bill Seliger

    My daughter received a Chromebook as a freshman in Chicago Public Schools – all of the students in her school do almost all of their work on them now.. She liked it so much I bought my own and I find it useful for most things. Now that she’s a senior she’s encountered the big gap mentioned here – installing other software. She’s taking a Java class and that’s taught on desktops and she’s taking AP Stats which uses a handheld TI calculator for the most part. I think both of these problems are easily solved with virtual machines. I haven’t researched Java VMs yet but I have stood up my own RStudio VM via AWS. Seems like there’s an opportunity there for Google to make this easy for teachers and further enable the Chromebook for more ‘advanced’ work beyond Google Docs and the like.

  13. Elia Freedman

    Besides my day job I’m acting technology coordinator for my daughters’ elementary school. They are 6:1 iPads in K and 1, 2:1 iPads in 2nd grade, 2:1 Chromebooks in 3rd grade, and 1:1 Chromebooks in 4th and 5th. Our goal is to stay at these ratios for the foreseeable future.A big limitation to usage was carts outside the classroom. Until this year they were shared and teachers weren’t using them because they couldn’t leave the students to go get them. Now we have enough of them to have carts in classroom instead and they are being used regularly.

  14. Michael Elling

    7×24 use and broadband access is really hard for 30-50% of the population of kids.

    1. JLM

      .So was indoor flush plumbing and HVAC, once upon a time. That worked out OK, no?JKJLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  15. Lawrence Brass

    I would choose RaspberryPi + a curated linux configuration and a set of programs in an SD card. It is cheaper and has more potential, in my opinion. Kids could carry them home, break them. As long as the SD survives, it is all OK.https://www.raspberrypi.orgFree data plans for kids is other thing to consider.

  16. JLM

    .In the crawl, walk, run world of tech development and implementation we live in (or should live in), this is a perfect example of getting smarter not bigger.The combination of civilian advisory involvement, tech savvy, skillful (economic) investment, administrative receptivity, experimentation is how things should work. Bravo!This is a great example of how a small bit of tech knowledge can be leveraged and create an explosion of impact. Congratulations to all involved for being sharp as a razor’s edge.The concern of having to learn a different operating system strikes me as a simple reality. There will be constant improvement and development for the rest of time.I would also say that the force feeding of study aids, like Fred’s Quizlet, are a boon to real education. This is all about delivery but, in the end, it has to be about content and efficiency, efficacy.Bravo and hats off to all involved. Crawl. Walk. Run.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  17. migdesigner

    did this get shared yet? “Chromebooks outsold Macs for the first time in the US”…

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Wow, I guess that is a big stat.

  18. Kirsten Lambertsen

    There’s one of these in my 3rd grader’s classroom. He LOVES it. His teacher makes use of all the new online tools to help open up communication with parents and students. It is absolutely working with my kid who has had a computer in his hands since he was 3.

  19. Karen Sorensen

    There is so many elements to the lack of technology in the classroom but the accessibility and teacher training are the two biggest problems. In 2013, I estimated there was about 15 million computing devices in schools. There has been an incredible jump in access to broadband and devices, especially within the last 2 years. I believe that in some cases at school districts, the only reason that they are exploring technology is because of the common core standards is an computerized assessment that is delivered through the cloud. This is ironic because this the Leave No Child Left Behind, was the catalyst for computers not being implemented in schools in 2000, which means education missed the whole Web 1.0 adaption.According to the FCC, 17% of all American Students don’t have access to broadband, and of that 53% of rural students don’t have access. The growth of devices in schools and districts has surged in the last 2 years, however, it is unclear if these devices are for administration or classroom use. Since, MS stopped servicing XP, many machines that where used for administration purpose needed to be replaced. In the 2015-16 cohort of the new standardized testing is that “students could not type fast enough” to complete the test. Meaning that are not spending enough time on keyboards to learn how to type fast enough.One large element in this discussion that is left out is teacher professional development. On a whole schools and districts don’t use modern technology to manage the enterprise of being a business. Teachers don’t know how to use technology as a classroom management tool, content distribution, let alone teaching students how to create and research with technology. I am not talking coding, but using basic productivity software like spreadsheets, presentation, documents, etc… Technology will not be incorporated in lessons or used as a classroom management tool until educators know how to use them to create effective instructional environments.Effective teachers are not tethered to their computers, they are interacting with their students. That is why they like the tablets since they manage their classrooms on the go and easy to distribute to students. Don’t make hardware decisions based on learning one skill–coding and decide that this is the universal decision. The market for coding applications is about 1 million or 2% of the classroom usage, despite all of the VC funding that has gone to this area.The important thing for schools and districts to keep in mind, is what are the overall goals to using the technology in the classroom and home (… )and to make smart decisions to help students achievement that works for the educator in the classroom to use digital content, assessments, and build digital literacy skills for the future.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      >Don’t make hardware decisions based on learning one skill–coding and decide that this is the universal decision. The market for coding applications is about 1 million or 2% of the classroom usage, despite all of the VC funding that has gone to this area.Good point. Computer literacy without programming (or with fairly light programming knowledge – the latter still only for those who want it) should also be a thing.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      Since, MS stopped servicing XP, many machines that where used for administration purpose needed to be replaced.Naw! I’m still using XP Professional SP3! The schools could have kept using XP! For finding and getting rid of computer viruses, the Microsoft download Safety Scanner still works! If the schools wanted, then they could have just installed Windows 7 on the same machines on an extra boot partition and then reinstalled the applications.I rarely use Microsoft Office, but my installation of Office 2003 still works as well as it ever did, and that’s about all I would want from Office. For word whacking, I use my favorite text editor sometimes with D. Knuth’s mathematical typesetting software (software for typing math; not math for typing software!) TeX — no way will I change from TeX!Maybe I used Microsoft’s Word to write something for the first and last time!Occasionally I use Excel to draw simple graphs. If click around on the options enough, can actually get a good looking graph!Excel? At one time I did well enough with Lotus, but the time I tried to have Excel do some calculations it flopped! The spreadsheet file got over 1 MB, and Excel was horribly slow. From the calculations, all I wanted was a nice graph. So, I wrote a little code outside of Excel, and that code did the calculations right away and wrote the results to be graphed to a file. I had Excel read that file draw the graph — Excel did well at that.Looks to me like for much of anything in calculations, Excel is way too slow.Besides, Excel is a horrible programming environment, e.g., with its rows and columns has yet to get up to even what assembler programs could do in allocating memory!I do have an old copy of Microsoft’s Photodraw, and it is good for making little line drawings, logos, etc.Somewhere, maybe with Office, I got a copy of Microsoft’s Picture and FAX Viewer, and it is super nice to have for being able to zoom and read the text of overly complicated images.The latest version of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) won’t run on XP, but for Web browsers I use Firefox and Chrome so don’t care about IE.XP is not so bad. For what it tries to do, neither is Office 2003.Get rid of XP? Why? Sounds like the change over would be a waste of time. XP runs .NET Framework 4.0 and SQL Server (of some version) just fine, and, for my software development for my startup, that’s mostly what I need.But, I’m about to plug together my first server, and there, first, I will run Windows 7 Professional and, soon, some version of Windows Server. I plan to have about five bootable partitions on rotating hard disk! Windows Vista, 8, 8.1, 10? Not a chance, at least not for some years!Am I in a hurry to get rid of XP? Nope — there’s little to no good reason for me to get rid of XP now!So, net, to me, for the schools to get rid of computers that were running XP was silly and wasteful.

  20. sigmaalgebra

    Yes, providing computing for a group of people — in a K-12 classroom, elsewhere in education, in any organization — is a pain due to costs of hardware, licensed software, and system management and providing desired functionality, ease of use, and computer security, etc.These issues are old and go back to client-server, time-sharing, etc.So, sure, maybe now one solution is a very thin client with basically just a Web browser for the users and, for the rest, the Internet, and some Web servers.Gee, I just looked at Quizlet! So, right, now part of political correctness is getting students working in cooperative teams. Then to have urgency, intensity, motivation, etc. again, have the teams compete.Then to get everyone on the team to cooperate and, also be under peer pressure to do so, have a task that the team can only do if each member of the team provides some input unique to that member.So, in this way, the girls on the teams must be willing to work cooperatively with the boys! Wow! Not just politically correct but social engineering! Uh, when I was in K-12, apparently the mothers told their daughter to avoid talking to the boys! For the girls to work cooperatively with the boys is a huge change!Wait until the mothers get the word on this effort at politically correct social engineering and show up at the PTA and, later, local school board meetings!Throw that in with Obama’s dictate that the boys and girls must share restrooms and gym locker rooms and showers!We’ve long known that there some really serious problems with Obama, but that he might be a pervert dreaming of showering with K-12 girls is a new one even to me!No more boring PTA or school board meetings!Well, later on the computing should have more than just a Web browser using a Web site. Instead, there should be access to a real operating system with a file system, text editors, utility programs, EXE programs, ability to write programs, etc. But the pain of providing computing as above remains.So, right, there is Windows with Citrix, some similar things from Microsoft, and no doubt more from Linux. So, for K-12, maybe could use client computers that are disk-less, that is, with no user-specific local storage so that each client computer in the rolling cart is equivalent.Yes, more can be provided just as Web site interactions that is common now. Interesting to think how far could go where the user client was only a Web browser! In this case, HTTP and HTML provide a new definition of a dumb terminal. So, we will be back to dumb terminals!A business opportunity here? Well, no doubt K-12 very much wants to expose the students to computing, including, say, AP Computer Science, and will be spending a lot of money on the effort. Hmm ….

    1. Adam Sher

      “So, in this way, the girls on the teams must be willing to work cooperatively with the boys! Wow! Not just politically correct but social engineering! Uh, when I was in K-12, apparently the mothers told their daughter to avoid talking to the boys! For the girls to work cooperatively with the boys is a huge change!”My mother-in-law told my wife, when she was a child, to not give a boy her pencil if one should ask. She might talk to him, fall in love with him, and marry him. What if he’s not Jewish!?I don’t see what’s politically correct about integrating group work into the curriculum. In b-school, many case studies were analyzed and presented in groups. Each group self regulated and removed the students who did not effectively contribute. The delinquents had to become productive or for their own groups. There’s nothing politically correct about ostracizing classmates so that you get a good grade. I expect more teacher supervision and guidance in a k-12 setting but also expect similar group dynamics w/r/t quality of contributions among group members.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        I suspect that still commonly the mothers tell their K-6 or K-9 daughters not to “loan a pencil” to a boy or some such.So, for> I don’t see what’s politically correct about integrating group work into the curriculum.for what I described from Quizlet the politically correct part is forcing gender neutrality where the girls spend as much time working with boys as with girls, e.g., in strong conflict with what mothers at least used to tell their daughters!IMHO, this gender neutrality, along with the rest of political correctness, is a fad and in real life just too awkward to last. Trump is already campaigning on being against political correctness. As I’ve conjectured before here at AVC, to me political correctness looks like a brilliant sabotage of US culture, politics, military, and work by some very bright Russian.I count as a start the book Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique with its “the problem that has no name” — right and was the problem of how horrible, supposedly, life was for a women in Long Island, with some children, a husband who was a good provider, and little to do but keep house and care for the children. So, she was living in astounding, unique in all of human history outside of royal palaces, productivity, standard of living, luxury — no wonder that problem “had no name”: It existed only in her sick imagination.More generally, with enough productivity, we can be free to fritter away much of that productivity on fighting problems that are so ethereal they are both trivial and next to invisible. So, political correctness has our society off wasting much of its productivity struggling over essentially imaginary problems.Betty Friedan, with all her extra time being bored about a “problem with no name”, could have gotten good at piano, violin, and voice and participated in choirs, orchestras, and concerts, taught music to her children, gotten her children ahead in school so that they were ready for college work by age 12 or 14 and between then and college been doing some research of some kinds, paid a lot of attention to their emotional, verbal, psychological, social, creative, artistic, empathetic, moral, ethical, religious, athletic, academic, mechanical, rational, quantitative, scientific, technical, romantic, entrepreneurial, etc. development.So, around the world, girls in K-9 or so are very much happier talking to girls their age instead of boys and are even afraid to talk to older boys. So, that is a violation of gender neutrality which under political correctness is a big problem.There is also a problem here for the boys: The girls, especially in K-9 or so, are on average much better at working in groups with other girls than boys are working in any groups at all. Indeed, already in the crib, the girls are paying attention people and the boys, to things. The boys are good at working with THINGS. So, when working with people, the boys are at a disadvantage. Since nearly all the teachers are women, the boys already get more than their share of contempt in the classroom.In K-9 or so, the girls are also much better at manual dexterity, e.g., handwriting, and clerical accuracy, spelling, and learning languages. Again the boys are at a disadvantage.I remember like it was yesterday: Through grade 6, the girls were much better at everything in class. Then, suddenly in algebra, the girls, by then nothing short of just drop dead gorgeous, WOW!, were struggling. I understood the material right away, and over on the right side of the room, basically trying to hide by being next to a wall, the girls, just GORGEOUS, were struggling. In math and physics, that continued. That pattern continued: In the senior year, when the SAT scores came back, at least the top three on the Math SAT were boys. And there were was another pattern there: #1 and #3 were Jewish. I was #2. Verbal SATs? I’m sure a lot of the girls blew me out of the water.On this whole gender equality thing-y, E. Fromm wrote:Men and women deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same,Gender neutrality and political correctness look to me like something from a brilliant Russian sabotaging the US, causing the US to extract miserable defeat from the jaws of magnificent victory, all for reasons less real than dust balls under a bed.

  21. Phi Pham

    As CEO of a nonprofit ( working with youth in digital music and DJ workshop in after-school settings, I can attest to the power of Chromebooks and how we’ve been able to scale our work through cloud based music production.Yeah, it might not be the best hardware, but the ability for these kids to continue working on their files outside of our workshop has led to a lot of growth in their own creative development as well as empowering them to be producers rather than just consumers of technology.Check out one of our students’ (freshman in High School) tracks:

  22. LaMarEstaba

    My cousin’s daughters used Chromebooks in school. They are more comfortable with Google Docs than Microsoft Word. Chromebooks are excellent for certain people, IMO. My mother has one and loves it. If you primarily use your computer for web browsing and documents, Chromebooks fill those needs.

  23. Karen Sorensen

    I know two HS students that are currently taking AP CS at 2 different Silicon Valley schools.One of the student’s a hotshot self taught visionary coder and passionate about computer science. When I ask him about his CS class, “its like whatever” responds. It is clearly not challenging enough for him. The work that he is doing for me is way ahead of what he is learning in class. What is interesting about his relationship to technology is not very mobile savvy. I think some of that is his parents in order to manage his technology purchase–servers, routers, large screen desktops, etc… making sure that he has the resources to do, but not necessary in a mobile environment.The other student is my son, he has talent, won a gaming hack as a middle schooler, but has no motivation or interest in technology itself. The class for him is way beneath his current skills and is not building any motivation in him, he actually hates the class. He sees technology as a pure productivity tool. He has always lived in a home with access to wifi, to the point where if they wifi is down it for more than 2 hours, it becomes a crisis. HIs devices include iPhone, iPad, Chromebook, iMac, xBox, and a Laptop that is designed just for coding development. Were does he spend his time? Almost all his research and entertainment needs are delivered over the iPhone and iPad and school work (including coding) on his Chromebook, and social sports gaming on the xBox.Basically like all discipline in education the school is not meeting the needs of the students its serving. One of the reasons could be for the lack of computer science training by the teachers. Or it could be the requirements for of the AP CS curriculum. It is unclear since this is the very first cohort for the class at both of these high preforming schools. Now think about this— I am talking about the technology bubble of Silicon Valley. Imagine what the rest of the country’s CS programs look like?

    1. Vasudev Ram

      > HIs devices include iPhone, iPad, Chromebook, iMac, xBox, and a Laptop that is designed just for coding development. Were does he spend his time? Almost all his research and entertainment needs are delivered over the iPhone and iPad and school work (including coding) on his Chromebook, and social sports gaming on the xBox.Constraints can boost creativity …And one can have too much of a good thing.

      1. Karen Sorensen

        That’s what happens when you have a techie mom– you get lots of technology hand-me downs and your wardrobe consists of swag. Don’t confuse the lack of creativity associated with not being interested in CS. He is very creative and passionate but it is applied towards biology, social studies and rugby.Here is the AP CS requirements from College Board, https://secure-media.colleg… Are you inspired by it? Does it lead to project-based, active learning?What is needed is how to combine the students passions and interests with technology to create awesome things! The technology is just a tool, what you do with the tool of your choice is where the magic happens.

        1. Vasudev Ram

          >Don’t confuse the lack of creativity associated with not being interested in CS. He is very creative and passionate but it is applied towards biology, social studies and rugby.Interesting. I actually didn’t mean to imply that he might not be creative generally.It was more like thinking, that with so many (6) computing devices available to him, a lot of apps and functionality might be readily available to him, with less of a need to find workarounds, write his own code for doing small and medium computer related tasks that he wants to do, etc. – even if it is just stringing together programs by scripting or in batch files.In that sense, a surfeit of ready-made functionality might tend to reduce creativity – in the computing field alone, is what I meant. (He could still be creative in other areas, as you say he is.) You know, the kind of things that people perforce had to do in earlier decades of the computer era – like on early DOS / Windows / Unix, and still a lot on Unix systems. Build their own tools and solutions – at least for some smaller things.This particular instance seems like part of a larger trend that I’ve been observing for some time, among the relative beginners to computers – in the industry, not schools – but the schools thing might be the precursor of it.It’s also been discussed now and then on sites like HN.>Here is the AP CS requirements from College Board, https://secure-media.collegebo… Are you inspired by it? Does it lead to project-based, active learning?Had a quick look at it. I agree. Nope and nope. I’d describe it as too academic, and not motivating enough, for kids of that age.I might have more to say about it (thought of a point or two), but not today.>What is needed is how to combine the students passions and interests with technology to create awesome things! The technology is just a tool, what you do with the tool of your choice is where the magic happens.True, but I would qualify that a bit by saying that everything cannot, or it may not be so easy or advisable, to have *all* of it be awesome right from the start (and actually not much even later).I’d say there needs to be a mix of some quite fun and interesting stuff (leaning towards the practical and building stuff side), and some mundane stuff (leaning towards the theory and fundamental but somewhat boring concepts) (and sometimes the two may be intertwined), that beginners need to learn. While I’m not an expert in this area, based on some teaching experience, I think kids of lower ages are less able to understand somewhat abstract concepts than kids a bit older, so that ratio between theory and practice may have to be adjusted accordngly, and by trial and error.To make that easier for them to swallow, it should not be dictated on from high, so to speak, that they have to do this (the boring / theory parts) “for their good”, but in a more adult-speaking-to-adult [1] kind of way, that one just has to go through and learn those somewhat boring parts in order to be able to do the more interesting stuff. And that the somewhat boring parts are fundamental and will have a lot of use throughout their use of computers, over the long term. Okay, that last part is somewhat like the “for their good” thing, but I don’t think everything should be dumbed down, or life made to look like it is just a bed of roses [2], and there is a good amount of that happening these days, not just at school level but in industry too. [1] As a kid, I had an uncle who always talked to me like I was an adult (though I was in my teens), and I vibed much better with that, than with others who spoke in an adult-to-kid kind of way.[2] Doing that is actually doing them a disservice, since the realities of life later come as more of a surprise or shock to them.

  24. Vasudev Ram

    Interestingly. machines (in general concept) like Chromebooks have been around for quite some time. I remember reading about the Sun Ray – a thin client machine from Sun – back in the day. It was touted as being the next big thing, and how it would save a lot of costs, you can use any machine anywhere (on your corporate network, that is), just sit down at it and login with your user id, and your work is waiting for you in the cloud (though they called it the network at the time, heh). Don’t know if it took off in even a moderately big way though. Doesn’t mean the idea is bad though. And of course Chromebooks are somewhat successful.Update: Just did a quick google, it was available from Oracle until as late as 2014. So maybe it did sell some. Though in the photo it doesn’t look very thin :)…

  25. Nicholas Kind

    There’s no denying that Chromebooks are both affordable and manageable. Also, they are part of – and optimised for, and designed to encourage wide adoption of – Google’s growing ecosystem of free tools for education (Apps, Classroom) which are slowly increasing in scope and functionality. All good and lovely, it seems – until you start to look at Google’s approach to the data held in these tools and who has access to it. There are only limited APIs, none of them abide by any of the emerging standards for data exchange and access in edtech, and Google has absolute control of them. All of the big tech companies are fighting over education both for its data and the chance to catch users early. Google’s no saint here – just furthering its strategy. A system based on open standards – or even Google helping to further the development of such standards – would be great, but there’s no sign of that. @fredwilson:disqus, given your normal desire for openness, I feel you should be worried here as much as enthused.

  26. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:OFF TOPIC:We waited until the topics on the blog original post was addressed until reaching on a older post.The blog entry on March 4, 2008 Marc Andreessen on Obama (Eight years ago). The comments attacked Mrs. Obama for her assessment of experiences in the United States. She was attacked within the posts. Now the same people are supporting Trump who has painted a dark future for the Unites States. Love to view the apologists attempt to reframe the discussion away from the actual responses. There are some sick pups in the United States.

  27. Erin

    Our school uses Chromebooks. I’m not a fan because I can’t understand the OS, although kids can figure everything out so they seem to make them work. If they’re cheap, I guess that’s good; the laptops we had before them were always bugging out on us.

  28. Dan G

    my college sophomore kid just moved back to school and left the Windows desktop he had built, at home. He brought the desktop last year to school, but decided so far this year, his Chromebook and Moto X are working well together. We use Windows at work, and at home I’ve haven’t touched my Windows laptop since I got a Chromebook a couple of months ago.

  29. Sebastian Wain

    Completely agree. Chromebooks are not general purpose hacking/development tools. Linux or Windows are much better options to expand K-12 horizons. Even Android is very limited in terms of developing software in the platform. For example, if you want to teach basic skills about functional languages, which are well connected to K-12 curriculum, how do you install Haskell there? An alternative would be buying these cheap Chromebooks and installing another OS. I don’t know if this breaks any EULA.I think the only positive aspect of Chromebooks in K-12 education is easier device administration…

  30. Tommy Chen

    Hardware cost may be the same, but maintenance/support on a Windows machine is much more than that of a machine running Chrome OS.

  31. sigmaalgebra

    Can you be more clear? So, get a Chromebook andinstall Windows or Linux and for local storage use only a USB stick? So, the Chromebook is disk-less and stateless?

  32. Tommy Chen

    The benefit of running Chrome OS is that it’s low maintenance and users get a personalized environment by just signing in. You lose that by going back to Windows.

  33. jacopogio

    yep, but in 5-10 years time laptops will look like dinosaurs ! 😉 Kids are using all day their smartphones for watching videos, listening to songs and taking pictures, writing notes, playing games, writing code,… They should use also them at school NOW. #FutureisNow

  34. Karen Sorensen

    @willykaram:disqus I agree with you, that if you are talking about a career in IT then a fully functioning laptop is needed to build skills that are needed to practice. However, if you look at the current statistics of mobile devices in the overall workforce “mobile is becoming the workplace tool”.… , these are the tools students need to work within their future careers outside of IT. The raise of the citizen developer within enterprise is changing how productivity software is being developed to make code requirements limited to this type of developer.

  35. Mike Zamansky

    I do have some thoughts on this and will share but right now I’m off to what I hope will be a not too unpleasant afternoon in the dentists chair.I’ll probably write something up on my blog tonight or tomorrow

  36. LE

    Expertise costs money and the money for good decision making and knowledge of cost effective alternatives is simply not there. The solution to this might be figuring out a way to get people to donate their time to help making decisions similar to the way tech people (that Fred has asked to help as one example) give their time teaching and/or promoting programming skills. I don’t know if that would step on toes or not with the administration. If it did who cares though. People have to stop being afraid of a little conflict and be the crazy driver once in a while to get through their agenda. I have found that often works.Give them cheap Chromebooks and let them break them, or lose them (or sell them), and replace them with more cheap chromebooks rather than spend money bigly.I can’t agree with that. You have to learn to respect things that others own and although I am sure you were in part kiddingm having the item locked up puts out the idea it was valuable. And it’s not a play toy. It’s a valuable piece of electronic equipment. You have to learn respect for it. [1]Just the other night I was in my step son’s room and he was playing some stupid video game or watching some stupid sports game (emphasis intended) on his mac laptop.. Something didn’t go right and he hit the screen so it whiplashes back. He didn’t even know he was doing something wrong. I got really angry at him (I had been told by his sister he did that but never saw it myself) and it was clear that he had no ownership in the object and didn’t have to earn the money to replace it. I was really amazed because as a kid raised in the “don’t play with the power windows you will break them” era I couldn’t even fathom doing this no less in front of a parent. [2][1] And it will love you back long time…[2] Gotta tell you that I totally ground him to a pulp for doing such a stupid thing and not even knowing it was wrong to do.

  37. PhilipSugar

    Here is the thing that really bothers me. People think about spending = quality/value.Spending /= quality/value.

  38. PhilipSugar

    I have seen the waste as well. It is stunning. We had our people wire our new office in a Friday afternoon for team building.The quote was something like $50k. For a school district triple that. I know of a school that paid $5k per networked computer and that was in one room.

  39. awaldstein

    Choose understanding before you mandate discipline is something I heard round my table with a family of teachers.

  40. Vasudev Ram

    I don’t think he means that. It is either-or for Chromebook vs. Windows / Linux. What he means is that Chromebooks are good for entry level (students), running all browser-based software from the cloud. But for more advanced learning (e.g. older students), to be able to install dev tools for desktop apps (e.g. C, Java. Python, Haskell, Scratch, Squeak, etc.), (not only for web app dev), preferable to have a machine with a hard disk (see his other comment about refurbs and stuff from the HP site he linked to), and on those they install either Windows or Linux. And that part about the USB thumb drives makes this approach even better. I was going to suggest booting Linux from Live CDs, but the thumb drive approach may be more convenient – smaller devices and media, don’t even need a CD drive on the PC – except maybe slower to install from thumb drive than CD – not compared, but I do remember installing large files from thumb drive was slow for me when I did it. Still, it likely won’t be done very often, so it may not matter.

  41. PhilipSugar

    I look at these people, those that sell roadwork, and those that sell ERP systems and think I’m a dummy.

  42. Tommy Chen

    Gotcha. Linux can be more personalized than Windows but it’s still not as low maintenance as Chrome OS. I get that your proposal has its benefits tho.

  43. Vasudev Ram

    Maybe should consider teaching a statically typed / compiled language to at least the ones who show aptitude for it. There are still plenty of uses for those. Not everything is web dev in an interpreted language. And in fact Go(lang) is compiled but can do web too. D is another somewhat good option.

  44. Mike Zamansky

    So it sounds like it’s gotten easier to do the Linux on chromebooks thing since last year. As I wrote – I’m going to have to play with a newer chromebook.I might have to pick your brains on specifics in the near future if that’s ok with you.

  45. Humberto

    I kind of agree.