September 30, 2022

3 Questions for a Community College Director on Chromebooks

Andy Specht, the Director of Information and facts Engineering Services at Allan Hancock Higher education, achieved out right after looking at my piece Why So Couple Chromebooks in Greater Ed? Andy had some attention-grabbing points to say in our initial e-mail trade concerning his knowledge with Chromebooks at his establishment. This Q&A is our work to bring Andy’s Chromebook insights to our broader IHE neighborhood.

Q1. What is the story of Chromebooks and Allan Hancock Higher education?

Prior to the pandemic we experienced been kicking all over the notion of purchasing Chromebooks, as a small-charge way to loan desktops to students or to use in the classroom. Once March 2020 hit, and we suddenly experienced a have to have to loan hundreds of computer systems to students, investing in Chromebooks became a requirement. Of course, Chromebooks also quickly grew to become a warm commodity and had been really hard to source. We were being privileged that one of our peers, Santa Monica University, had procured too lots of Chromebooks, and they have been eager to promote a couple of hundred of them to us at charge.

The approach to get Chromebooks up and jogging was pleasantly quick and quick. We dusted off our outdated Google Admin tenant that we experienced used a lot of years in the past for university student Google accounts, before switching to Microsoft. We connected our SSO provider to Google, enrolled the Chromebooks, and then we were all set to start off handing them out. Learners were being able to use the Chromebooks for joining courses on Zoom and finishing coursework. A single matter that is notable is how number of support requests we gained for Chromebooks. They look to either energy on and do the job great or they are useless and off to surplus, with no considerably in involving. More than the previous pair yrs, our library has taken care of Chromebook lending for college students, and Chromebooks carry on to be in large demand from customers.

A person roadblock to Chromebook adoption that we identified early on was the absence of Microsoft Place of work desktop applications. Although lots of students are common with browser-based apps like Google Docs and Business On line, we have a good range of personal computer know-how courses that especially teach learners how to use Microsoft Office desktop products like Excel, Obtain, and Publisher. Normally these college students would use our on-campus computer system labs for the programs, but all those labs experienced quite restricted availability in the course of the early times of the pandemic. Our solution was to pilot Azure Digital Desktop for learners. This lets pupils to obtain a full Windows desktop setting in a browser. It is a pleasant answer for learners borrowing a Chromebook, considering that they can operate a Home windows desktop and all of those Microsoft Business desktop purposes from inside the Chrome browser.

Q2. Where by would you like to see Google make investments so that Chromebooks could be additional practical and desirable in our bigger ed context?

On the one hand, Chromebooks are still to some degree ahead of the curve for larger education. Program is continuing to move into the browser and not live as a desktop software. But there are even now tutorial components or other computer software that need installation on to a Home windows or Apple desktop ecosystem, and which is the limitation of Chromebooks. This impediment ought to diminish about time, considering the fact that practically just about every software corporation is focusing on developing and improving upon browser-based software program.

The biggest impediment for wider Chromebook adoption is that quite a few of the less-pricey types just aren’t that enjoyable. The keyboards can be a bit mushy and the digital camera resolution is not fantastic on the reduced-end devices. Google has stepped back again from generating Chromebooks by themselves, but if the suppliers bumped up the components good quality when protecting a low price, that would surely make Chromebooks additional appealing.

Q3.  What tips do you have for other colleges or universities that are considering introducing Chromebooks in buy to close electronic divides, decrease total costs, and present a much more resilient computing infrastructure?

Just try out it out! It is a small expense to buy a couple Chromebooks and management licenses, and you can get them configured and operating rather immediately. At the very same time, it is essential to established anticipations about how the Chromebooks will be utilized identify that they will not in good shape the needs of all of your college students, but Chromebooks probably can discover a location at your college where by they are a helpful and price-productive solution.