Probably the best step we have taken to make our Chromebooks the most user friendly the can be (for the borrowers and for the lenders) was to make them Public Session Kiosks. To get you primed about this topic I will include an official Google Help link here: Public Session Kiosks. Please take some time to read this before continuing.
To make a Chromebook a managed first you have to purchase licenses for each device and enroll those devices. Anyone in your organization (provided that your work emails go through gmail) will be able to complete this step. However the next step requires that you be a Google Administrator. Once you are an administrator you can create as many Public Session Kiosk profiles as you like and set your enrolled devices to whichever profile you would like.
I have created two profiles, one for the Dine’ College Library and the other for Girl Scout Troop #2009. As there are many blogs and help articles about setting up these profiles I won’t dive too deep into that but I would like to talk about some of the advantages using managed devices for a lending lab.
The biggest advantages are ease of use, ease of administration and ability to add educational scaffolding. For the user there is no sign in, and the first thing they see is a welcome page guiding them through the steps of using the device. You can’t get simpler that that. For a more seasoned user they can go directly into accessing various web pages and exploring the bookmark bar (as prompted by the welcome document). Most college students, traditional or nontraditional know at least how to use browsers like google chrome, and that is 90% of what these Chromebooks are.
For administrators the advantages are that the chromebooks will wipe all data between login and logout automatically. This drastically reduces security risk. These devices are also managed from a central console. If there is a problem it can be addressed universally instead of one at a time. Last if the laptops are stolen they can be deactivated from a central console, which makes them ideal for lending as there is no value in stealing the device, besides what value there already is in borrowing it legally.
For those who wish to use these chromebooks as tools, managed devices are absolutely invaluable. You essentially train the computer to be best used as a tool to promote what particularly you wish to promote. For example if you want to promote STEM learning and coding you can absolutely do so, without necessarily needing staff to facilitate (though we know that a combination of the two is always best). Moreover you don’t have the liability issue of having many different people signed on to your computer all at once. You could have your lab administrator flatten the device and restore it to factory default with each use, but this is tedious and prone to human error. Imagine having the ability to intervene directly and load exactly the web pages you want to, and provide exactly the information that is most useful for your community for all your devices all at once.
I cannot make this more clear: to do a lending lab correctly you must have licenses for your devices. You simply must.
In my next run of blog posts I’ll be doing a Discovery Lab Administrator Roll Call. Each of these three blog posts will highlight the community members who are helping us make this pilot possible. Until then!