Prepare Chromebooks for e-learning days at home

For administrators who manage Chrome devices for a school.

School closures—for a storm, natural disaster, health crisis, or other community emergency—can present a big challenge for admins. You want students to continue to participate in classes and keep up with their schoolwork while they, and their teachers, are at home.

Chromebooks can be great tools for e-learning days at home. With the help of some of our most experienced Google for Education IT admins, we’ve put together a checklist of questions, tools, and Google Admin console settings for you to consider when preparing Chromebooks for students to use at home.

Note: You might have region-specific requirements and restrictions for e-learning days. Be sure to check with relevant government bodies to ensure that you’re meeting those guidelines.

Who can use devices at home, and when?

Restrict access to specific users or account types

You can restrict which users can sign into Chromebooks enrolled in your domain. For example, to restrict access to a specific list of users, enter a list of permitted users. All accounts except the ones you specify are blocked. Or, to let users sign in to school devices with their managed school accounts and block personal accounts, limit your devices to only accept user accounts from your domain.

For details, see Sign-in restriction.

Allow or block guest mode

When you set account restrictions, consider whether to allow guest browsing on managed Chrome devices. Guest mode lets anyone use a Chromebook without an account. When the guest mode session is finished, all data from the session is automatically deleted.

For details, see Guest mode.

Prevent users from signing in to their personal accounts during school hours

To let users sign in to devices using their personal account outside of school hours, use the Device off-hours setting to let users browse in guest mode or sign in to devices using an account other than their @schooldomain.edu account.

For details, see Device off-hours.

Maintain local user data

Many schools using Chromebooks as shared devices choose to erase all local user data after sign-out to maximize disk space. If you’re sending devices home with students, you might consider maintaining local data to provide a more efficient 1:1 experience for students that are using the device exclusively.

For details, see User data.

How do I enable network connectivity and ensure responsible usage?

Remove network restrictions to ensure students can connect at home

Many school devices are restricted to school networks only. If you’re sending devices home, be sure to remove restrictions so that students can connect to their home network.

For details, see Restrict networks and network interfaces.

Allow or block access to websites

Many schools put content restrictions on their networks. You don’t have that same control over students' home networks. You can use denylists to prevent users from accessing the same content on their Chromebooks at home and in school. Denylists are user policies that can be set for different organizations. So, you can create different denylists for teachers and students, or for students in different schools and grades.

An example of this is Hangouts Meet; an excellent tool for distance learning. To enable it, schools must turn on the Hangouts service, which also enables Hangouts Chat - a function that some schools may want to disable for students. By denylisting both https://hangouts.google.com and https://chat.google.com for student organizational units and blocking the Chrome app from the Chrome Web Store and the Android app from Google Play, you can disable the chat feature for students while still keeping it available to teachers and enabling Hangouts Meet for all users.

For details, see URL blocking.

Remove printer restrictions so students can print at home

Many school devices are restricted to school printers. When sending devices home, you can remove printer restrictions so that students can connect to their home printer.

For details, see Native printers management.

What apps and content can our school provision to provide extra resources at home?

Create bookmarks for key content

You can use the Admin console to remotely set bookmarks to websites, making it easy for students to access school sites, digital curriculum, web apps, and other online resources.

For details, see Managed bookmarks.

Load critical tools or services as startup pages

In addition to bookmarks, you can pre-load startup pages in the browser to ensure that high-priority content, such as a student’s class page or Learning Management system (LMS) homepage, is front and center when they sign in.

For details, see Pages to load on startup.

Deploy web apps and Android apps to devices

Students at home might not have access to many of the resources and tools that are typically available in the classroom. You might be able to fill some of those gaps with apps, including graphing calculators, digital notebooks, drawing tools, and publishing tools.

The Chromebook App Hub is a great resource for educators to find high-quality classroom apps (and supplemental resources) that are optimized for Chromebooks in schools. All of these can be provisioned to student devices using the Admin console.

For details, see Automatically install apps and extensions.

Note: If you want to enable Android apps on devices (which is in Beta), be sure to turn Android apps on for your domain and update devices to the latest stable release to take advantage of Play Store updates. For details, see Deploy Android apps to managed users on Chromebooks.

How can schools prevent students from bypassing school policies?

Enable Forced Re-Enrollment

The most common way for students to try to bypass school restrictions is to powerwash devices and sign in with their consumer account - especially if they’re away from school and direct supervision. You can easily prevent this by enabling forced re-enrollment. Devices are then automatically re-enrolled in your domain and adopt your device settings if students powerwash them at home.

For details, see Force wiped devices to re-enroll.

What should I communicate to students, parents, and teachers?

Share information about Chromebooks with families

Some parents might not be familiar with Chromebooks and how they differ from other computers. Consider sending an email to parents to explain how these devices work and how to assist students at home.

Display your school’s code of conduct on device desktops

Many schools post a digital code of conduct in their classrooms as a regular reminder to students of rules and expectations for device usage. For e-learning days, you can set a custom wallpaper for student accounts displaying their code of conduct as a regular reminder at home.

For details, see Device wallpaper image.

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