For anyone that sat through the seemingly to short Chromebook session on Wednesday, if you are considering Chromebooks for your school, here is a link that gives a synopsis of the Chromebook and "Getting to know" it. http://support.google.com/chromeos/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1...
If you are a school that REEEAAAALLLLYYYY likes Google Apps, but find the taste of the Chromebook from Google to be an expense you cannot at this time afford, but like the concept of a lightweight computer platform that can keep IT restrictions at a minimum, you might consider trying putting the ChromeOS (Chromium) onto netbooks of your own. You can practically build your own version of the Chromebook by replacing the OS on a cheap netbook with the ChromeOS. Several factors might come into play here such as hardware compatibility, etc., but if your tech savvy people are up to finding the right combination (as the article states, Samsung and Acer netbooks are the most reliable choices), then you might give this a shot at least as an experiment. I plan to as well as we try to wring every dollar from our overall investment. http://suhailkapoor.com/2011/06/beginners-guide-to-install-chrome-o... Of course this takes away the warm fuzzy feeling you might get from a Google supported device, but these would be inexpensive enough to almost be considered throw away devices if the price and longevity are about right.
If you want a Chromebook to go with your Google Docs, but do not want to pay the Google price, either for the non Google supported Chromebook, or the Google support managed Chromebook, you have options. I just downloaded the ChromeOS and installed it onto a jump drive using a few swiss army tools. I put the jump drive into a Dell Latitude D2120 netbook, set the netbook to boot to USB, and VIOLA! On reboot I had running from my jumpdrive a Chromebook! I was able to connect it to my wireless and it looked and acted just like the Chromebook. Quite a bit slower since it was running from a jumpdrive, but it did work. I did NOT have a chance to test all the ports and other devices, but the wireless was working and the desktop. There is a version that can also be imaged to a harddrive to remove the other OS and replace it with ChromeOS. The site I got this from DOES WARN that it could be buggy as it is a BETA build, etc., but it is worth at least a look. So simplified computing using Google Docs through a ChromeOS platform IS potentially possible using existing netbook hardware if the stars line up right. You can get your install files for USB and Hard Drive here http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/. You may need the Windows Image Writer tool which you can get here https://launchpad.net/win32-image-writer. And if you do not have a zip program you may need something like 7-Zip which you can get here http://www.7-zip.org/. There is still a lot to be said for the Google management console for helping keep students safe especially if letting them take machines home, because with a typical Chromebook you can set the Proxy up to point them back through your filter, you can control app both loaded and removed, and more. Things to think about. Anyway... GOOD LUCK!
You are right about being ready for Chromebook, the cloud, or internet-based computing. The tipping point of teachers using the cloud is still far away. We need the pioneers to leave diaries of their digital lives so the rest of us can learn from their trials and tribulations. Teaching and learning is still the starting point, and PD will help others who don't wish to learn on the fly.
Since I have not touched a Chromebook, I can only say that it has possibilities to be a tool to change the way teaching and learning happens in a class or with a student. Instant on, immediate access to the internet, and inexpensive apps that can be used across platforms and devices will change the technology landscape. Soon even computers will have these features. Guess I gotta go to the April conference.
If the price point vs an iPad is more favorable, then this will be good. Apple is maintaining their dominance, however. Maybe Google will take an Amazon Kindle Fire loss leader approach to sales and marketing.
What is nice, and Apple does not do this yet, is that Chrome apps can run on a dedicated device OR a computer. It allows a world where BYOD is the real world, and schools do not have to shoulder the complete burden of funding.
This discussion might take on new relevance with the need for Smarter Balance Assessment done online.
Plus, the Chrome OS and the hardware vendors have evolved quite a bit in a year and a half.
The management console is waaaaaay better that what Apple provides (or better said, doesn't provide).
I must say that my recent experience using a Samsung Chromebook leaves me to believe that it is a good tool that fits well with a constellation of iPads and desktops. Now we can prepare students for solving problems by choosing the proper tool.