Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education have drastically changed the way students learn over the past several years.

I’ve witnessed it first-hand with my own children, as well as in the customer stories we help share here every day in the Corporate Communications team. Sitting here at my home office (a.k.a., the kitchen counter), I ask my 11-year-old daughter who is sitting next to me typing on her school-issued Chromebook if she likes using Google Docs. It’s an immediate, enthusiastic response (enthusiasm is something Tween girls ration between eye rolls, I’m learning):

Oh, yeah!! It’s sooo awesome. I actually like doing work on it. You can’t lose the paper homework assignment ever. And if I forget to actually turn in the homework assignment, I can still get credit because the teacher can look into Google and see that I finished it but just forgot to turn it in.  It’s easier to do group projects. It’s easier for study guides, too, since the teacher doesn’t have to hand them out or waste paper, and I always know where to find them!

If I knew a question about technology and homework would elicit such an enthusiastic response, I would have added it to my cadre of family dinner table questions long ago!

I think it’s almost expected to hear something like this from a parent living here in Silicon Valley, but truly this trend is happening nationwide, and for schools with students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds.

Shelton Public Schools in Western Connecticut is doing the same, and is one of my favorite Citrix customer stories. Shelton starting using Citrix technology nearly 10 years ago to virtualize and, today, is using it with Chromebooks to give students access to Google Apps for Education just like my kids are using in the Diocese of San Jose (another Citrix customer). Purchasing Chromebooks versus traditional laptops saves the schools a ton of cash; in fact, over the past ten years, Shelton has saved over two million dollars!

Recently, Shelton purchased 600 Chromebook devices for approximately $200, as opposed to regular laptops, which can cost as much as $1,000 each and need to be refreshed every five years.

Shelton was able to make this choice two years ago in part thanks to the Connecticut State Technology Grant. But it was more than that. As Dan DiVito, the director of IT at Shelton said, the reason they were so comfortable purchasing so many Chromebooks at once was “because we knew teachers had the umbrella of Citrix to make them comfortable.” The state recently awarded Shelton another $108,000 as part of their Common Core/Technology Grant, which DiVito will use to purchase more Chromebooks and Chromeboxes in the coming year.

In this district, which serves children from a wide spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds, choices like these to adopt this technology has leveled the playing field giving every student equal access. By virtualizing through Citrix XenApp to Chromebooks, children at all of the schools are able to use the same programs, such as Google Apps for Education and the latest Windows-based apps.

Shelton has extended this to the classroom, too. By supporting the Google Chromebox computers that mount on the back of a monitor in classrooms, and sell for less than $200—a fraction of the nearly $500 per device they would have had to spend on desktop computers in the classroom learning centers—Shelton is making learning easier for the younger students who don’t get to take the Chromebooks home.

Teachers benefit as well. Teachers are now able to work collaboratively on creating curricula without having to coordinate on-site meetings or be issued costly laptops, resulting in a savings of more than $150,000 in laptop expenses. Since teachers are no longer required to stay on site to collaborate on curricula—an activity that requires bringing in substitute teachers and, as a result, incurs significant costs—the district saves almost $50,000 a year in overhead costs.

The list of benefits go on and on, to the students who are the most important audience, to the teachers, but also to the school district and the public who are funding the schools.

Saving money while better serving students is a win-win that, as a Citrix employee, I love knowing our technology is enabling. And as a parent, seeing the smile on my daughter’s face when she’s talking about homework?!?! – now that is worth its weight in gold!

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