BYMC – Bring Your Managed Chromebook

I have often heard BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) referred to as Bring Your Own Disaster. Why? Because multiple platforms and devices are messy, difficult to manage, and ultimately means that far too much time is spent worrying about tech, where it should be focused on the teaching and learning. So let’s consider BYMC – Bring Your Managed Chromebook.

In a BYMC program, schools should stipulate one or two types of Chromebooks that are fit for purpose. Important considerations in any BYOD program should be battery life, time to boot up, durability and affordability – and Chromebooks tick all the boxes. Once we take into account the great features of G Suite for Education, the decision for schools to go down the Chromebook path should be even easier. More importantly, by encouraging one or two device choices, schools are eliminating the potential equity issues that can present themselves through a standard BYOD program (i.e who has the most expensive device).

So, it is no wonder that Chromebooks are now the number one selling device in New Zealand schools. However, with many schools looking to move towards parent procured models, the issue of managing devices that are purchased by parents is often ignored. In the vast number of community engagement events I have been involved in, there are usually three key concerns that parents have when being asked to purchase a device for their child’s education. These are:

  • How can you ensure my child is safe online when they are at home?
  • How can you ensure that this will be a tool for learning rather than a toy?
  • What happens if my child loses the device or it gets stolen?

Usually, schools are not able to respond to these questions with the answers that parents are looking for. But how would that conversation go if the devices were managed through Chrome Education? Let’s see:

Q. How can you ensure my child is safe online when they are at home?

A. When a device is enrolled to a school’s domain with a Chrome Education license, that device will act in the same way no matter if the child is at school, home, or a friends house. This is because it is device settings rather than network settings that are being applied. Therefore, safe search settings, various levels of YouTube restrictions and blocked URL’s can be applied to the device 100% of the time.

Q. How can you ensure that this will be a tool for learning rather than a toy?

A. Because the device can be locked down to users of the school domain, schools can disable various apps and extensions that may become a distraction from learning. For Chromebooks that can access Android apps through the Google Play store, only school approved apps will be shown. Schools can also block various online games that they deem are not enhancing learning in any way. Parents are investing in the device to help transform learning for their child, therefore, it is important to create an environment that allows this to happen.

Q. What happens if my child loses their device or it gets stolen?

A. When a Chromebook is managed through Chrome Education, any lost or stolen devices can be disabled. When this happens, the device essentially goes blank with a customised message saying which address to return the device to. The Chromebook cannot be reset, so it will stay locked until the device is returned.

When a school has decided that they are looking to implement a BYMC program, community engagement is crucial. We need to remember that most parents did not go through school using devices – and it most cases Chromebooks wouldn’t have existed. Therefore, the focus of the community engagement should be about how the world is vastly different today and why it is vitally important that we give our students to opportunities to practice future-focused skills that will allow them to succeed in a rapidly changing future. The key message needs to be that when technology is used correctly, it should transform learning. It is also a great idea to have an agreement that can be signed by the student, parent and the school that outlines why the school has decided to manage the devices and to outline acceptable use of the Chromebook. Click here for a draft that I have written up that you could make a copy of and adapt for your own use. (Note: a lot of the document has been adapted from the Manaiakalani Kawa of Care document).

It would be great to hear from those of you that have taken the positive steps to manage your Chromebooks. If you would like to talk more about your options in regards to BYMC, feel free to contact me at sam.gibson@nlg.co.nz

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