Google today released a new statistic about the use of Chromebooks — specifically in the context of education.

Now more than 20 million students use Chromebooks “to create, collaborate and communicate,” Rajen Sheth, senior director of product management for Android and Chrome for business and education at Google, wrote in a blog post. (It’s not clear if that number includes Chromebooks that multiple students share.)

For some time now it’s been clear that Chromebooks have been making inroads in schools. Now we know that Chromebooks really are growing — more than 10 million students were using Chromebooks as of last year. It’s still not clear how many people in general are using Chromebooks, but this is a start.

The thing is, this is a bit of a strange time in the land of Chrome OS. Earlier this year Google started bringing the Google Play Store to Chrome OS, making it possible for people to use Android apps on Chromebooks. But there have been reports that Google was keen to merge Chrome OS with Android more fully. One report indicated that Google might talk about this new merged operating system, known as Andromeda, at its hardware event yesterday.

But in not doing that, Google is keeping some people wondering about the future of Chrome OS as a standalone platform, even though Google last year came out and said there was no plan to discontinue the operating system.

Perhaps the best way to counter concerns about Chrome OS, without resorting to last year’s message, is to show that lots of people are using it. Presumably Google will think hard about how any changes to Chrome OS will affect all those users.

Last year a report said that more than half of all devices sold for use in classrooms in the U.S. are Chromebooks.

Also in today’s blog post Sheth noted that more than 20 million teachers and students are using the Google Classroom service.

Get more stories like this on TwitterFacebook