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.
We already have a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) domain set up, and a substantial percentage of our students and teachers already using Google services in some capacity. This made the hurdle to using Chrome OS that little bit lower.
Despite this, I’m interested to discover how easily teachers and students acclimatise to this very different operating system and if it can meet all of their requirements. Using Google services in a web browser with the back up of Windows applications is one thing, removing the Microsoft safety net is another.
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Purchasing Chromebooks — Not as Simple as it Looks
I did what was required. Contacted three of our regular suppliers and requested three comparable quotes from our regular suppliers. Then I placed an order….little did I know I’d already made my first mistake.
When you purchase a Chromebook from Google they provide a “Chrome device license” which enables the Chrome Management Device Settings page in the Google Apps control panel. Suppliers other than Google do not provide this license which you instead have to request from Google separately.
The First Job — Acquiring Chrome Device Licenses
You’ll notice in the image above, next to the “You must purchase at least one Chrome device license to use these features”, there’s a link to “Try Chrome device management”. The link takes you to an Introducing Chromebook for business page and a sales enquiry form. This didn’t seem to be the appropriate action to take so I called Google Support to find out more about Chrome device licenses.
While Google Apps support in general is very good, contacting the company about Chrome devices is a struggle. The telephone option for Chrome devices asks for your Google Apps customer PIN, but unless you’ve already been assigned a Chrome device license the only response you get it that the PIN is not valid — not very helpful.
After bluffing my way through the call options I finally reached a Google Apps representative that helpfully pointed me back to the original website form. I’m now awaiting a reply before I can continue my foray into the world of Chrome OS.
I’m assuming with naive optimism that the Chrome device licenses are free for Google Apps for Education customers. The answer is certainly not made clear by Google or their representatives, and this is an issue I keep coming across when trying to find definitive information about Google Apps for Education.
If you’re a Google business customer any information or pricing you might need is easily accessible, but often I’ve found that education customers are directed to business pages with irrelevant or confusing information. Also, the Google support representatives appear to be poorly informed about how to deal with education customers.
Once we have the Chrome device licenses I intend to document the process of setting up and configuring the Chromebooks.