I just found out my old school uses Google Classroom.
What the hell.

@grainloom Most students in the US must use ChromeOS / google apps in their classes. Not having an account is not an option.

As soon as Google realized noone wanted chromebooks, they figured out that schools needed cheap laptops with good battery life and pivoted to that.

Previously schools were using iPads, which you can’t type on... Coming from that, anything is an “”upgrade””

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@njha

asus and acer: you want non tablet portable machines for students? here, netbooks!

schools: too hard to maintain.

asus and acer: look we put windows on it!

schools: no sorry

google: look we did what they did but worse.

schools: YES @grainloom

@emsenn @njha but it has a Google logo on it, surely that's a mark of quality</snark>

@emsenn @grainloom I know it’s easy to meme about Chromebooks being worse, but if all you need is a web browser, they are far superior to any netbook. Chromebooks basically “just work”, always stay updated, and can be remotely tracked/monitored/updated from a control panel.

Of course... google... but they managed to not make a worse product for once.

@njha My chromebook has half the battery life of the eeepc i bought in 2012, less storage, less ram, no external storage slots, only one wifi chipset, and weighs more.

Software innovation was happening in the market regardless, ChromeOS made innovation faster by using more limited hardware but those small software innovations hardly seem worth the hardware sacrifices.

@grainloom

@njha I'm not gonna touch on whether students should really be on such thin-clients, or if we should have such browser-based computer use in general, but I should say that my views there do flavor a lot of what I've said. @grainloom

@emsenn @grainloom

Let me act as a school for a second
- it’s good enough
- Google gives schools infinite google drive storage
- don’t care about ram
- don’t care about storage
- why would a school need multiple wifi chipsets?
- weighs more is basically irrelevant (+- 1lb)

I’m going to equate this to Nintendo vs everyone else for game consoles. Sure the xbox/ps4/pc is technically superior, but the games on nintendo consoles are fun.

@emsenn @grainloom similarly, your netbook might be technically superior, but it doesn’t matter because chromebooks will work better and are better for the task (being a hardware webbrowser)

@njha @grainloom
Your Nintendo comparison is just silly, we're not talking about consumer toys but education tools.

The task - hardware webbrowser - is not the task schools were setting out to solve with iPads. The tail wagged the dog and now we have students who can't really even lay out a report on their laptop without it stuttering. That's better for no one.

Your points boil down to "yay cheap crap!" and sure, yay, w/e.

@njha Sorry that last bit was rude but I'm apparently suddenly really over this conversation. I apologise though, that's no excuse.

I do think your defense is misguided, but that was unhelpful of me. @grainloom

@emsenn @grainloom Sorry if I wasn’t clear, I’m just trying to explain the importance of “stuff just working” when noone is technically competent.

The systems you’re describing don’t exist (for the right price at least) and as such schools *cant* use them. They *should* yes, but right now it’s impossible.

@njha I'm on the same page now - and agree. But I blame schools for causing those systems to not exist, by promising to buy the product of whoever provided it first... and then buying Google's product even though it only checked like, 2 of the dozen requirements they had.

And that switch was directly because of appointees in the federal government that encouraged the adoption - i forget names offhand, obama's second ed secretary? @grainloom

@njha @grainloom
1) cool so you took a corporate bribe
2) so you don't want students to be able to dabble in any sort of editing. keep them in their lane, get them to be good drones. great.
3) see above
4) meshnetting, so they don't have to maintain expensive wifi coverage, easier in-class sharing with lower dropout and latency.
5) lawsuits against elementary schools for overweighted backpacks different.

@emsenn @grainloom I mostly don’t disagree with you by the way, just explaining why chromebooks “won”

That said, there’s no way that a bunch of people being paid ~$not much (teachers) will be technically trained enough to work with any sort of meshnet system (no such existing system is easy to use).

Sure if someone made a cool laptop with a meshnet system, was fast, cheap enough for schools to afford, lightweight, durable, doesn’t have technical glitches (ever)..

@njha Gotcha - I was reading it as advocacy that chromebook shoudl've won, not just explaining how it happened. Again, my bad.

The meshnet stuff isn't really tricky, the school sets it up when they set up the other wifi stuff (do you know how complex university wifi systems are? it's nuts.)

@grainloom

@njha @grainloom My point is, someone WOULD have had a fair shot to make that laptop, if schools, after holding out themselves as a golden goose to manufacturers for legit decades, didn't jizz their pants the second google had an offering and buy on in.

@njha @emsenn
Why not buy something laptop-y based on an SoC like the Raspberry Pi?
And as I said, infinite storage is purely unnecessary.
I don't care about hardware features, as long as it can run Firefox it's more than strong enough. Weight is irrelevant to me as well.
Software is what counts. If the platform makes it difficult to use proper software, it's a shitty platform. If schools don't see it, they are bad schools.

@grainloom @njha Because that is not a system that can be deployed and maintained over a system of 80k individuals across the planet without substantial engineering and development in its own right?

(estimated total number of students+faculty in my state's university system, who share the same internal infrastructure (which is browser-accessible these days))

@grainloom @njha I think, Rain, you're thinking of "a student's laptop" and Nikhil is thinking of "laptops for the members of a student body" and those are two very different problems to solve!

@njha @emsenn Being owned by Google and being glorified Chrome bootloaders is exactly what makes them worse than anything else for me. Just like how learning MS Office prepares you to be a Microsoft customer, Google prepares you to be a Google customer / surveillance subject.

@njha @emsenn But hey, why should governments spend money on developing high quality libre education software when they can fund wars or build stadiums?

@grainloom @emsenn Right, the problem is that there is no better alternative (especially for the price and benefits google gives, like infinite storage for every student), not necessarily that they like surveillance.

@njha @emsenn they probably won't use infinite storage though
we could use PuTTY and FTP back when I was in high school, why isn't that viable?

@grainloom frankly with the population boom and requirement for interoperability there's just no way it would scale - what we "should" have done is the department of defense should've come up with a whole system for laptops for training troops, and then the department of education commissioned asus or someone to make versions for schoolkids. That's (basically) how we used to do it, with textbooks and calculators and shit. @njha

@grainloom @emsenn Because putty and ftp are way too hard to use for your average person.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should have oss tools, but no one has made an all in one package (that technically illiterate people, like most teachers) can use EXCEPT Google.

Heck, my school even pays for instructure canvas (selfhosted, no tracking) but teachers choose to use Google Classroom instead because it’s prettier.

@njha @emsenn It's really not though, each school already has a sysadmin. On the first few IT classes we learned the basics of PuTTY and we could use it from then on. If you can upload download and browse files, you are set. You could also just make a SAMBA share. None of those are substantially harder to use for students.

@njha @emsenn And for the sysadmin, it's mostly a one time thing they have to set up. But if they are a sysadmin, they should already know how to do that.

@grainloom @njha "each school already has a sysadmin" hahahahahahha mate my high school's sysadmin was our librarian who's resume from 2003 claimed 25 years of linux experience, and i went to the nicest school in my district. You're really overestimating the training of lower-level people.

If you wanna fix that problem, sure, but otherwise the current tech just ain't suited.

@emsenn @njha Then they are understaffed. But they don't all need sysadmins, hosting providers are a thing. No reason governments couldn't make Moodle or Canvas or file server hosting a thing they provide for schools.

@emsenn @njha Basically I think this is a social problem, not a tech one. If the current tech is unsuited it's because we've been letting monopolies get away with way too much, including messing with IT education in their favor.

@emsenn @njha Or at the very least, we should not treat this as a tech problem alone. The monopolies probably love to have us spend our time making alternatives, preferably open source ones that they can then use for their own benefit. But IMHO meaningful change can only happen if the culture around tech changes.

@grainloom @njha I hope y'all don't mind me bumping this thread, but I just saw this post from a friend on another platform. She's a teacher in a relatively well-funded part of not-anymore-rural Canada.

I'm not presenting this with any commentary, but just, since y'all have an interst in this topic, might appreciate seeing this.

@emsenn that sounds about right (am a student)

The charge problem was solved for us by buying these really big carts that charge chromebooks (students just put them in and the whole thing gets connected to the wall). One student just grabs the cart at the start of class.

We are a bit more fortunate now though, in that we have 1:1 students:chromebooks, so people are allowed to take them home too.

I still haven’t seen a use for them other than typing essays though.

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