Recommended settings for Chrome Education

Chrome Education is an amazing tool that all schools using Chromebooks should invest in. This is because Chrome Education saves IT admin huge amounts of time and it also means that schools can create an environment where users are safe online and are less likely to be distracted from their learning. With incredible ease from a simple cloud-based console, schools are able to lock devices, push apps and extensions, enforce policies and administer tests at scale.

To get the most out of managing your Chromebooks, here are my recommended settings:

Restricting Access to sign in

Do not allow guest mode: I describe guest mode as a button that could say “use me if you don’t want your teachers/school admin to know what you are doing on this Chromebook”. As soon as students use Guest Mode, none of the settings/policies put in place for the users on the domain will be enforced.

Restrict sign in to users on your domain: Much like guest mode, if users are allowed to sign in with their personal accounts, none of the user settings and policies will be enforced. Furthermore, if a device is lost or stolen, no one else apart from those on the school domain can use it (note: lost or stolen devices can also be disabled with a customised message that appears on the screen).

Autocomplete Domain: This is simply just a great time saver, where users don’t have to write their whole email address to log in (i.e not the domain part). This is even more useful when we are talking about very young users that would struggle to write their whole email address.

Track what students have been on

Disallow incognito mode: Incognito mode is private browsing. There is no need to let our students browse the net without knowing what they have been on, so disallow it!

Always save browser history: Students will be less likely to stray off task if they know that their browser history is saved. This can also be a handy tool to prevent online bullying.

Do not allow clearing of history in the settings menu: It’s no use saving the browser history if students can quickly delete it in the settings before the teacher asks to have a look – therefore do not allow students to clear their browsing history.

 

Help keep students safe online

Always use Safe Search for Google Web Search: This isn’t saying that students will always go looking for the wrong things, rather, we should protect our students from accidentally stumbling on something that they did not intend to see. There is also the setting to ‘always enable safe browsing’ in the section above in regards this.

Restricted mode for YouTube: There are 3 levels of settings for YouTube restricted modes – again this is to stop the content that we wouldn’t want our students looking at and the fact that some content will be a major distraction from learning. Considering that YouTube is now one of the greatest learning resources we have, it would be a huge shame to block it entirely. Therefore, having the ability to have different levels of restricting is a huge benefit.

URL Blocking

Whilst the safe search options can keep the nasty stuff away, there are still sites that schools may deem are a distraction from learning such as games or various social media sites. These can easily be blocked in the admin console. Whilst some school networks do a great job of blocking sites, Chrome Education is unique in that it is blocking these URL’s on the device, regardless of network. This is a huge advantage in BYOD settings (read here for more: why schools should consider Bring your Managed Chromebook).

 

Do not allow changes to keyboard settings

Sign in Keyboard

Students can be savvy/cheeky, and in my experience, one little prank on unmanaged Chromebooks is to change the keyboard settings so the next user struggles to log in as the @ sign may be in a totally different place. Avoid this by choosing only the keyboard type(s) that you want for all of your devices.

 

Quick tip: Give your devices an asset ID!

When you enrol a Chromebook onto your domain, only the serial number is shown by default. My advice is to add an Asset ID to each Chromebook – for example, Chromebook 1. This should reflect the label that is physically on the Chromebook. Or, if students are bringing Chromebooks to school that they own and the school is managing them, the Asset ID should be the student’s name. This way, if a device goes missing or you need to deprovision it for some reason, it is much easier to track rather than having to look up serial numbers.

Did you know:

A great feature of Chrome Education is that you can track who has logged into a device and when that happened. This is great if a device goes missing or if there is any damage to the device. I would also suggest that when students know this is the case, they will be much more likely to look after the Chromebook when they are using it.

User settings vs Device settings

You may have noticed that some of the settings above are device settings and others are user settings. It is important to realise that unless you are restricting sign-in access to just users on your domain (through device settings), then students will simply be able to by-pass any user-setting restrictions (such as safe-search, YouTube restrictions etc). Therefore it is vital that the correct device settings are applied to enforce the all-important user-settings. For schools using Hapara as a classroom management tool, it is crucial to force students to log in using their school username, otherwise, users will not show in the Hapara dashboard. For more about this, check out this earlier blog-post.

What if the Chromebooks are student owned rather than school owned?

With many schools looking at moving towards parent-procured models, it is important that schools realise the importance of managing these Chromebooks as well. Not only will schools reap the rewards of having the devices managed in an effective and efficient way, parents will also have many of their concerns in regards to BYOD eradicated. For more on these benefits to parents, check out my earlier blog-post.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to know more about managing your Chromebooks that are either school or parent procured, please feel free to get in touch to discuss your options. Email me at sam.gibson@nlg.co.nz and I will be happy to help.

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