Compared to iPad, Chromebook management is, as a wise man once said, “like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.”
We needed a set of mobile devices for our Science department. They had to be portable but we didn’t have the budget for Windows laptops. In our research we came to the conclusion that using iPads as multi-user devices wasn’t appropriate, however, we still wanted the accessibility, speed, and reliability of a tablet. We decided to experiment with a set of 25 Chromebooks.
Our Chromebook Management Licenses have finally been applied to our Google Apps for Education control panel. This was carried out by Google , the only thing we had to do was wait for the confirmation email. The whole process took about seven days. Lesson learnt, if you are buying Chromebooks for use with your Google App domain, buy they from a Google recommended supplier.
Once your Chromebook Licenses have been applied the Chrome Management options become available in the GAFE control panel (Settings > Chrome Management. From here you can configure options for your Chrome devices on a user or device level.
Enrolling Chromebooks in Your Google Apps Domain
Enrolling Chromebooks into your GAFE domain is really simple. From a factory reset state you just boot the Chromebook, enter your connectivity settings, and press CTRL + ALT + E. The enrollment login box then appears and you simply log in with a Google Apps account from your domain. That’s it!
It honestly makes me wonder how Google can have made this process so simple across the Internet, when joining a Windows PC to a domain takes several minutes. Admittedly the Windows PC is far more configurable and is likely to be pulling across more settings, but it’s still impressive.
Of the 25 Chromebooks we enrolled four of them failed to join the domain on the first try. Repeating the process resolved the problem. On one Chromebook we had to repeat enrolment four times before it joined, but as the process is fast this didn’t cause an issue.
While enrolling Chromebooks is really quick and simply, if this is the first time you’re using Chromebooks with your Google Apps domain, make sure you leave time to familiarise yourself with the device settings in the Google Apps control panel. This part of the process took us more time than actually unboxing and enrolling the devices.
If you have a large number of Chromebooks the best route to take is to set up one to become familiar with the Google Apps control panel before enrolling the rest. I also found it very useful to have a Wi-Fi hotspot that doesn’t require any proxy server settings. If you have transparent proxy configured on your network this may not be an issue.
That’s it. My 25 Chromebooks are now in their trolley enthusiastically awaiting the start of term. As students begin to use them I’ll post some more about their use in the classroom and any changes we found we needed to make to their configuration.
One thing I am concerned about is the build quality of the devices. The casing is extremely thin and the screen is far more flexible than I would like. We’ll see how things develop over the next term.