We are having a little dispute here in the overly large school district, between a growing chorus of principals, teachers and tech trainers who want to use Chromebooks in their classrooms, and the IT department who says no way.

I understand the reasoning of the school-based people. The devices are cheap, reliable, and perform most of the functions a student would need during the day. They are a step backward from the all-purpose laptop we’ve become used to, but it would enable classrooms to have far more access to network applications for the same money.

However, I also understand IT’s position: regulations. District rules state in no uncertain terms that though shalt not purchase anything that doesn’t run Windows. Just ignore those thousands of iPads we approved in a moment of weakness. :-)

Of course, there’s much more behind their opposition than just following the rules (which they wrote in the first place). Devices like Chromebooks represent the loss of both control and jobs. Our IT people love to customize and configure everything, and they employ more people to do it than the department for instruction.

In the approaching age of easy-to-use, disposable computing devices (the $100 laptop we’ve been promised for so long), organizations like ours will need far fewer people to manage and repair them.

Certainly “real” computers will not disappear from schools anytime soon,1 but in the next few years, their numbers will likely see a steep decline. Accompanied by a corresponding reduction in the numbers of computer repair and “desktop management” people.