IT Departments & Chromebooks: Love at First Site
Knowing what chrome device you are going to implement is half the battle. The day has come that they have arrived, all 10,000 of them, and now it’s time to get down to work. Enrolling your devices can be a daunting task especially if you have a lot of them. Even a refresh of 500 Chromebooks can leave you cooped up in a room, enrolling for the better part of a week. There are a few different options available for enrollment and which one you choose will be determined by the device quantity, time available, and your budget.
Like every Google for Education product, there is always a free way to accomplish something, but depending on your device numbers, this could mean weeks of manual input and reinput (there’s always a few that get a number or letter messed up after being entered hundreds or thousands of times)
Pros: Free, easy, and asset ID’s can be entered during enrollment
Cons: Requires touching every device, user error can require wiping a device, no easy means of bulk enrolling and requires giving credentials to assistants.
Manual Enrollment +
This involves a little less work, but it does require you to purchase a barcode scanner – and don’t by the cheap ones because you get what you pay for and they don’t always work. Invest in a quality barcode scanner; you can thank us later. This method allows you quickly scan each unit and process, but still requires every device to be touched.
Pros: Reduces time entering credentials, reduces human error, protects credentials, and asset tags can be scanned during enrollment
Cons: Requires USB Scanner that works with ChromeOS and still requires touching every device.
White Glove Enrollment
It is exactly what it sounds like, a company does all the heavy lifting for you by inspecting and configuring the device before it arrives at your door.
Pros: Devices arrive enrolled, already updated to newest Chrome OS version, and Verification that device policy was fetched
Cons: Expensive, enrollment best practices may not be followed, and Limited transparency and control
Automated Enrollment is accomplished by utilizing Centipede, a free, self-serve solution that packages together an inexpensive microcontroller. You have the ability to program the device to use your own settings for WiFi and enrollment credentials, and it will enroll a device for you. Plug the Arduino into a Chromebook and let it do the keystrokes through the enrollment screens, setting SSID, network passwords, and clicking “Next” for you — allowing you to enroll many more devices per hour.
Pros: Unattended execution, inexpensive, Eliminates human error, protects credentials, arduino is reusable.
Cons: Still requires touching every device and requires programming the arduino.
Check out the centipede in action by watching a video created by one of the schools who has used the tool.
Once you have your products and you’ve chosen the route you plan to take for enrollment, the next thing to consider is the enrollment best practices. This includes making sure you create a user for each enrollment location and place them in the OU where you want the devices, completing the configuration of user settings in the target OU, and making sure to turn on the asset identifier during enrollment.
Post-enrollment, Chrome users, devices, and Organizational Units (OU’s) all require special setting configurations to ensure policies and environments are correct. The Admin Console allows schools to customize device and user settings depending on their needs. If you aren’t sure here are a few questions to help determine whether you are on the right track or not:
Configuring Device Settings
Are students getting around your policies?
Are you making it easy for students to log in?
Are your devices getting updated?
Are you restricting versions when testing?
Configuring Chrome User Settings
Are your students able to browse anonymously?
Are you enforcing Google Safe Search and YouTube Restricted Mode?
Can students clear browsing history?
Are you personalizing your staff and student’s Chrome environment?
Are you pushing out bookmarks?
Skipping any of these will cause you unwanted time and extra work in the long run. Once you are all enrolled, it will be time to think about management and start asking those configuration questions. When it comes to post-enrollment Chrome management, be sure to check out Chrome Gopher. It is another Amplified Labs tool created to simplify device management.