Technology in K–12 education is gaining major momentum across the nation, and schools are investing in personal devices for their students to use both at school and at home. This rapid implementation of hands-on devices poses both benefits and challenges. As more school districts adopt Google Chromebooks as their technology of choice, parents, teachers and administrators alike are concerned about giving students open access to the Internet and the new distractions that can come with it.
Fortunately, teachers and administrators have found that many of these fears can be addressed with effective Chromebook management, which enables students to access the full educational benefits of technology while minimizing distraction and harmful content.
Why Administrators Are Choosing Chromebooks
School administrators across the country are adopting Google Chromebooks faster than any other personal device because they are easy to manage and can minimize the aforementioned risks. Chromebook unit sales increased more than 310 percent in 2014 over 2013 sales, and in the third quarter of 2015, Chromebook sales surpassed 51 percent in the K–12 market, trumping other devices like Microsoft Windows-based computers and Apple iPads and Macs.
Administrators and teachers are selecting Chromebooks because they’re inexpensive, easily transferrable from school to home due to their light frame, entirely cloud-based, and have a keyboard to easily type essays and other writing assignments. Chromebooks also have immediate, built-in connection to Google’s digital learning environment, facilitating exploration and collaboration with tools like Google Drive, Google Classroom and more.
In addition to Google’s learning capabilities, administrators like that Chromebooks are optimized for the user. Chromebooks offer personalized user experience independent from the device, enabling students to more easily share the computer with other students in districts that have tighter technology budgets without diminishing the experience. Chromebooks are also completely cloud-based, making them easier to manage without worrying about storing documents on devices that can crash.
The widespread adoption of Chromebooks is helping equalize access to information in the United States. For many students, the school-issued Chromebook is the only device in their families. Providing students with a personalized Chromebook lessens the impact of economic disparity in public schools and ensures that all students are given the same resources for instruction and growth.
How to Manage Chromebooks
Because of Chromebooks’ surging popularity, safeguarding student teamwork and inquiry on these devices is critical. Effective Chromebook management secures the continuation of technological advancement in education and the equalizing of school resources.
Chromebooks and Google resources have inherent ways for educators to regulate student online behavior. Google’s robust suite of apps streamline assignment workflows for teachers and students. Google Docs allow teachers to peer into student progress at any time, and redirect them to educational resources to keep them on track. Teachers can also go into Google Drive or Classroom to view and evaluate the progress each of their students has made, and communicate directly with students if they fall behind.
Chromebooks can be customized for student use via the Google Admin Console, which allows educators to change user and device settings, manage apps, designate admin access, and more. Educators can give users different levels of freedom on Chromebooks and even create customized roles. Using the Admin Console, administrators can create different organizational units — admins, faculty, K–8 students, high school students, and others — with customized privileges. For example, they can block K–8 students from having access to Google+, outside email and specific banned URLs, while giving teachers and administrators access. Educators can also block all apps except for approved ones or allow all apps except for blocked ones, preventing students from installing problematic extensions. Teachers can also view each Chromebook’s Browser History and turn on Safe Browsing.
More granular and comprehensive Chromebook management software has been designed outside the Mountain View Googleplex. Unlike other tech giants, Google has created an ecosystem open to outside developers. These external engineers have created extensions and dashboards that provide greater protection to students and enhance the learning capabilities of Google Chromebooks. I designed GoGuardian to help educators manage the sites their students can view and monitor searches, cyberbullying, self-harm and more. It provides relevant insights to educators about what students are interested in online, how they collaborate with each other, and how well they retain lessons. It also helps stifle distraction so students can concentrate on learning and developing in meaningful ways.
As schools become aware of user-friendly tools for effective Chromebook management, the future of Chromebooks in education looks bright. Educators can keep students safe while receiving more granular data focused on how individual students learn and behave online. In turn, educators can use this data to help them attain the exploration and collaboration they need to master core topics. At the end of the day, technology in the classroom and its effective management is all about helping students reach their potential.
For more on Chromebooks, check out:
- Google for the Win: The Ascendence of Chromebooks & Google Apps
- 4 Reasons For The Rise of Chromebooks
- Google Apps Summer Camp: Chromebooks
Advait Shinde is Co-Founder and CTO at GoGuardian. Follow Advait on Twitter, @advait3000.
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