When David Andrade became the CIO for the Bridgeport Public Schools District in Connecticut last year, he knew he was in for a big challenge.
Only a few old desktop PCs were located in the district’s public schools, and his limited budget made it difficult to place a big order for new computers. Being in a working-class community, where 95% of the students receive free or reduced-cost lunches, most students didn’t have access to computers outside of school, either.
So when he was asked to bring more computers to Bridgeport public schools, Andrade immediately thought of Google’s Chromebook. He had tried one of the first Chromebooks in 2010, when Google sent it to him for review on his blog, and was impressed by its price and functionality.
“The affordability and easy maintenance of Chromebooks clinched the deal — we could buy three Chromebooks for the price of a single desktop computer,” Andrade wrote on Google’s official enterprise blog Friday. “We would also save on support time and costs since Chromebooks update automatically.”
He initially bought 4,000 Chromebooks for the high schools, and started using Google Apps for Education to give every student an email address. He also transferred all the student documents to Google Drive to save time and storage costs. Now the district owns 9,000 Chromebooks in total, allowing every high school student to have one at their desk.
“The Chromebooks have already changed how teachers teach and students learn: there’s less ‘listen-to-me’ lecturing, and more active student involvement in creating their own projects,” he wrote in his blog post.
Andrade’s story doesn’t come as a surprise considering Chromebook’s growing market share in education. During Thursday’s earnings call, Google’s Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said more than 1 million Chromebooks were sold to schools last quarter. That’s a huge spike compared with the 2.1 million Chromebooks sold in all of last year.
“It’s clearly a record quarter and the popularity of Chromecast continues to grow,” Arora said.
As of last year, 22% of the school districts in the U.S. were using Google Chromebooks.
“Education is an extraordinarily important sector that Google is going to want to focus on,” Scott Strawn, analyst at IDC told Business Insider. “There’s still a long way to go but a million sales of Chromebooks does represent an alternative to Windows on a desktop, and that’s pretty meaningful.”
For Andrade, what makes this meaningful is the way it’s changing how his students learn. As one of his 10th-grade students told him, “they make it easier to hand in work and decrease your chance of failing.”
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