Chromebooks vs. Textbooks, Educational Comparison

The Digital Solution
Posted on 12/17/2019
Image of APS ChromebooksA reporter’s inquiry recently led us to an interesting discovery. It has to do with Chromebooks. These Internet-access, laptop computers are in the possession of every Akron Public Schools student in our 1:World project, putting one such electronic device in the hands of each student.

So, approximately 21,000 student have these “portal” computers for use at school and to take home. Chromebooks don’t have a “brain” or any stored files. They are strictly for use by students needing to get on the internet for school work.
   
Why Chromebooks?
  • Low cost
  • Quick boot time – eight seconds
  • Long battery life - will last an entire school day
  • User-friendly
  • Cloud-based
    • Can access files anywhere, anytime
    • No data loss
    • No software required
  • Automatically updated
  • Secure
    • Content filtering
    • No viruses
    • Immediately disabled if lost
The reporter who inquired wondered just how many of these devices were lost or stolen each year. She had discovered reports with the Akron Police Department showing several hundred had been discovered missing. APS files police reports on these, not because they were stolen but because insurance requires missing devices have police reports filed so we may be reimbursed by insurance.

In answering the reporter’s inquiry, we discovered our maintenance/replacement of these electronic devices to be similar to what school districts everywhere have done with textbooks. Textbook “doctors” were kept mighty busy by students who had all sorts of things happen to their books. Some were chewed by their dog, or dropped in a puddle, or written/drawn in, or had broken bindings.

While some parents and grandparents might mourn the reduction in our use of textbooks, our reasons for going to more online textbook use, if you will, are many. Textbooks are easily and quickly made obsolete by developments in all areas of learning. Textbooks cannot be updated and replaced every year or as current, world events necessitate. Students using Chromebooks are essentially using “live” textbooks that can be revised immediately as developments dictate.

Textbooks are expensive, nearly as much to buy as a Chromebook. They’re also heavy and require massive amounts of storage area. APS students averaged six or seven textbooks per student prior to our use of Chromebooks. That comes to almost 150,000 books.

While Chromebooks must be serviced, maintained, repaired and sometimes replaced, we have found, after three years of 1:World, the cost of all of that is a fraction of the cost of caring for, repairing and replacing textbooks.

Akron Public Schools had been investing roughly $300,000 -$400,000 annually for maintaining our textbook inventory.

Now, with 21,000 Chromebooks instead of 150,000 textbooks, we were pleasantly greeted by some favorable numbers while looking up the information for our friends in the media.

Our costs, with insurance, for replacing each unit is $100. Between last school year and December of 2019, we have had 2,000 Chromebooks unaccounted for or damaged beyond repair. Because of that, APS has had to invest between $20,000 and $30,000 on Chromebook replacement. That is a savings of about 70-75% for our taxpayers.

We are always happy to answer media inquiries, but this one was especially gratifying because of what we learned about our 1:World program.

Learn more about APS and its use of Chromebooks at: akronschools.com/programs/1__world_-_chromebooks_in_a_p_s.

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