Windows of Opportunity

Director of Strategy

Why Chromebooks might not be the right devices for teaching and learning

It’s no understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic changed most everything. Perhaps nowhere was this most evident than in education. Classrooms were driven online. And school districts—already becoming more reliant on technology—found themselves shifting to remote and blended learning within a matter of weeks, resulting in the bulk purchase of affordable laptops to send home with students. According to a March 2021 Education Week survey of school leaders, 90 percent of middle and high schools and 84 percent of elementary schools were providing a device for every student. And, in terms of schools and districts, affordable laptops often mean Chromebooks.

And while Chromebooks may be here to stay, they are not—however—designed to last.

Haste Makes E-Waste

The US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund concludes in a new report—Chromebook Churn —that schools are beginning to see their laptops fail, creating piles of electronic waste and potentially costing districts money.

Once laptops have expired, they don’t receive updates and cannot access secure websites. The report also discusses Chromebook’s auto-update expiration date, a common sticking point for many schools and districts using Chromebooks. Due to the time that it takes to purchase and deploy Chromebooks in schools and districts, a common expiration range for a device is often four to five years.

It’s also challenging to find spare parts to repair Chromebooks, with this scarcity making parts expensive and hard to source. As part of the report Failing the Fix, repairability information was evaluated from manufacturers in France. The 11 Chromebooks reviewed had an average parts availability rating of 3.3 out of 20, much lower than the average non-Chromebook laptop, which averaged out to 9 out of 20.

The PIRG estimates that “doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks could result in $1.8 billion in savings."

Dependable Devices for Long-term Learning

So, what is the solution? Well now that we have these insights and—knock on wood—no new pandemic around the corner, the education space can look beyond immediate knee-jerk needs and decide the best means of delivering high-quality, longer-term learning solutions for students of all abilities. This means purchasing dependable devices made to survive and thrive in a variety of in-the-trenches education scenarios. For many, this means Microsoft Windows devices.

Devices running Windows 11 for education are secure, easy to deploy, and manage. Reimagined for a new era of digital learning, Windows 11 devices help to unlock a student's potential with powerful tools to learn, collaborate and create— all in a secure and trusted environment. Affordable Performance and Flexibility Windows 11 SE offers the performance and reliability of Windows 11 with simplified design and modern management tools, loaded on affordable devices that are pre-configured for student privacy and remote management using Intune for Education.

Windows 11 SE for education was built for teachers who need a simple, distraction-free environment for their students and for school IT admins who need devices that are secure, easy to deploy and manage, and perform well all day across the changing conditions of a school year. The cloud-first operating system is optimized to deliver great education experiences and catered to the unique needs of K-8 education.

Schools can access a wide range of affordable, personalized devices that are built for inclusive, accessible learning designed to meet the challenges of the hybrid world, while schools conserve critical technology resources amidst budgeting restraints. And, with a cleaner interface and fewer distractions, Windows 11 SE helps students focus on learning in a familiar digital environment while preserving valuable class time for instruction, wherever the “classroom” needs to be.

Schools used Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds received in 2020 to accelerate learning, often purchasing devices. Years later, districts are refreshing the devices that were initially purchased. Windows 11 student devices provide a superior learning experience than that provided by Chromebooks. Designed to be the right device for all students, Windows 11 laptops combine security, manageability, and equitable learning tools into a single, long-lasting device.