Chromebook UnboxingWe 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.[color-box rounded="false"]You may also be interested in:

Chromebook Experiment – Part 1: Purchasing

Chromebook Experiment – Part 2: Management Licenses

Chromebook Experiment – Part 3: Setting up the Chromebooks

Chromebook Experiment – Part 4: Managing Expectiations

Best Practice: Configuring Chromebook With Google Apps[/color-box]

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.

Google Apps for Education Chrome Management

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.

Chromebook Experiment – Part 2: Management Licenses

Let us know your experience with Chromebooks.


About Author

Profile photo of Karl Rivers

Karl is an award winning Director of IT for the Royal Grammar School Guildford, based near London, England. He has been working in education for more than ten years and founded ClassThink in 2013 to share technology best practice with other schools. In 2014 he won the NAACE Impact Award for support services in schools, and writes edtech articles for Education Executive Magazine.


  1. I’m in the same boat. I made the mistake of going and buying 3 for some lobby workstations from the local Walmart thinking I could just enroll and go. Apparently not, it said my account wasn’t authorized to enroll. But from what I could tell, Google wasn’t selling the HP Chromebook 14 that I needed (the non-profit senior center I work for needs something with a bigger display). I read somewhere that google charges 150 per device, or 30 (for non profits) per device for the life of the device for mobile device management. It’s really a shame it’s not buy and go. MDM was the reason I went with a chromebook instead of a PC.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Brandon,

      Google really need to make this clearer on their Google Apps website. It took a good deal of researching before I was able to find the information I needed.

      Let me know how you’re getting on with your Chromebooks.


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