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.[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]

Lesson Learnt

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

Chromebooks

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.

In the meantime I’ve posted an article about some of the technical aspects of configuring Chromebooks through the Google Apps for Education control panel. It’s by no means definitive so please consider sharing your experiences and tips in the comments.

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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.

6 Comments

  1. Buying Chromebooks from vendors like Best Buy has added complications to enrolling them into Chrome managment. The Chromebooks (44) shipped with an OS version of 25. By the time I went to enroll them the OS was at 29 and all my Chromebooks failed to enroll. It is a painstaking process to get them enrolled now.

  2. I’m interested to hear how you are doing. I enrolled all mine in July and they were all working. Came back in September, and having no end of problems. Really disappointed with them so far.

    • Profile photo of Karl Rivers

      Hi Bev,

      We’re just starting the new term so ours aren’t even in the hands of students yet. I’ll be posting articles about how we’re getting on as we go through the year.

      I’d be interested to know what problems you came across and why you’re finding them a disappointment. What were your expectations? How were they not met?

      If anything it will give another perspective for readers.

  3. We encountered a similar situation to John, the chromebooks we received had v25 and wouldn’t enroll or automatically update even though the tech people we purchased them from, said they would. We discovered the only way to get the chromebooks to enroll, was to update the OS, by clicking on Guest mode then update the OS. Reboot and enrolling worked. If you do a factory reset you will lose the update.

    If the enrollment process doesn’t work, check the OS version, via Guest mode. V25 doesn’t work, but v30 does.

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