edtech for IT: User Devices in Schools

Since the first desktop computers arrived in schools decades ago, several generations of computers have been installed in schools, and they reflect the changes we have seen in consumer computers. It is probably more accurate to use the term devices to describe the hardware users use to interact with information and other users. The original desktop computers were box-like. Output was displayed on cathode ray tube monitors (usually in one color), keyboards were connected via cables, and even applications and data was stored on disks keep in boxes. Perhaps the most noticeable change in school computing hardware accompanied the replacement of CRT displays with liquid crystal displays (LCD) which are much thinner the CRT’s. 

Near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, netbooks became popular in schools. Those mobile computers with small screen and keyboards than standard laptops and with limited capacity compared to standard laptops. Compared to standard laptops, netbooks were inexpensive, so they were the device of choice for many early adopters of one-to-one initiatives.  

iPads and other tablets never because widely used in schools. There are several reasons for this, but traditional instructional uses and the difficulties of managing the devices intended for single users were among the most cited reasons these devices never caught on in education.  

Chromebooks—notebook computers that are used to connect to the Internet and all functionality from user authentication to productivity and other applications provided by web-based applications—are very popular in schools. It is difficult to know exactly what devices compromise the fleet of devices in schools, but Chromebooks are very popular as they are less expensive to procure than computer with full operating systems. In addition, there are much lower costs for licensing software for Chromebooks compared to full OS devices, and they are much easier to manage than other devices. These advantages do come at the cost of computing capacity, however.