Deprovisioning Chromebooks in a school district presents some unique challenges that you won’t find in your average enterprise or corporate space.
Whether it’s graduating students, reassigning devices to new school members, or repairing devices that are needed in the classroom, K-12 IT teams need a clearly defined process to quickly deprovision student Chromebooks in any scenario.
In this article, we’ll be highlighting the tools needed, the steps to follow, and the considerations to keep in mind to ensure the success of your school Chromebook deprovisioning plan.
How Does Deprovisoning Affect District Devices
Let’s jump right in.
To remove Chrome devices that are no longer active in your school district, you can deprovision them right from the Google Admin console—but what effect will that have on those selected devices?
Deprovisioning will do the following:
- Remove device policies, device-level printers, and access to Kiosk Mode
- Prevent the ability for devices to be enrolled in your district domain. To provision devices again in the future, admins must follow the steps in the re-enrollment section of Google Admin console.
- Return licenses associated with devices to the license pool. These licenses may be used to enroll same model replacements for perpetual orders (or any replacement for annual subscription orders) and must comply with the Chrome OS license policy.
- Remove the serial number from the “Provisioned” view in Google Admin console—you can select “Deprovisioned” in order to view a list of deprovisioned devices.
After deprovisioning, your previously “Provisioned” Chromebook devices will be reverted to a blank slate (i.e they will automatically undergo a factory reset to remove all data including user profiles, device policies, and enrollment data). This will allow your IT team to reassign them to new students or return them to storage, and add them to your spare pool of devices.
When to Deprovision a Chrome Device
When’s the right time to deprovision a managed device?
The short answer is, whenever it’s no longer being used in your school district. If you fail to deprovision Chromebooks at the end of the year or semester, you won’t be able to reassign those devices to new or incoming students.
With that in mind, if you meet any of the following criteria, it’s time to deprovision your district Chromebooks.
Some deprovision reasons may include:
You have devices with forced re-enrollment that you no longer want to manage
By default, wiped Chrome OS devices automatically re-enroll into your account without users having to enter their username and password. This can save a lot of time for IT teams at the end of the school year or semester.
However, if you no longer want to manage a device, you need to make sure that you turn forced re-enrollment off within Google Workspace. The Google Admin console allows you to configure re-enrollment settings for Chrome OS devices.
Further, if you want to decide which devices get re-enrolled—and which don’t—you can apply policies to different users. This gives your K-12 IT team the ability to make sure that student devices aren’t automatically re-enrolled at the end of the year. This is useful when students graduate, lose device privileges, or when a device is simply being assigned to a new owner.
You need to upgrade or replace a device with a newer model
The average lifespan of a student laptop is three to five years. If a student device is approaching the end of its life, you can plan ahead by preparing deprovisioning before the end of the school year or semester.
Otherwise, the device will continue to show up in Google Admin console, your MDM software, your inventory management tools, and any other software where the device is actively being managed.
You’re selling, donating, or removing a device from your district
If you plan on donating or giving away a device, it’s important to make sure that the device is deprovisioned. Otherwise, old user policies or settings could still apply to that device—even if it’s being used by somebody outside of your school district or domain.
The device is damaged and in need of repair
If you’re sending in a device for repairs, deprovisioning is important. If a device hasn’t been deprovisoned by your K-12 IT team, it cannot be fully tested and repaired by a technician.
After your school Chromebook has been fully repaired, it can be re-enrolled and assigned to its original owner.
A list of deprovision reasons within the Google Admin console
How to Deprovision Devices in Bulk
Deprovisioning an individual student device is pretty straightforward. However, deprovisioning hundreds (or thousands) of student devices at once is where things start to get tricky.
Some methods involve using the Google Apps Manager (GAM), where K-12 sys admins have to employ Chrome extensions like the “Chromebook Getter” in Google Sheets, and then manually enter the device serial numbers and device IDs into a separate Excel spreadsheet.
Using open-source software like GAM for deprovisioning can be useful (and save you a few dollars), but it will ultimately lead to a breakdown in your deprovisioning process and cause your team to spend hours juggling between separate software and platforms.
It’s far easier to use the features built-in to the Google Admin console—and there are a few tips you can use to make bulk deprovisioning quick and easy.
Separate student Chromebooks by grade type
The number of Chromebooks deployed by the average school district could rival a large enterprise, so when deprovisioning time rolls around, it is much easier to manage fewer devices that are already separated and categorized.
In this case, you’ll be separating student devices by grade level. Categorizing devices by grade level is a great way to plan bulk deprovisions in advance because you’ll be able to keep track of students preparing for graduation, and help them plan out deprovisioning ahead of time.
To separate by grade level, you’ll need to create a new organizational unit within Google Admin console, where your K-12 IT agents can quickly select devices in a group, label them by grade level, and then deprovision them en masse.
Device Re-enrollment after deprovisioning
Device deprovisioning isn’t always permanent. For example, when a device is sent in for repairs, it will need to be deprovisioned and then re-enrolled into your domain before it can be returned to the classroom.
To re-enroll a student Chromebook, you will need to follow the instructions listed in the Google Admin console.
However, before a Chrome device can officially be re-enrolled after deprovisioning, it needs to have its data wiped. This deletes the devices local data, returning it to its initial state. The process only takes about forty minutes, but it is absolutely mandatory to do so before re-enrolling and assigning a device to a new student.
Verify the Status of Your Provisioned and Deprovisioned Devices
As a final step in the deprovisioning process, you’ll need to verify your work to make sure nothing went awry. Some steps to review may include:
- Ensure student Chromebooks are separated into organizational units
- Double-check user permissions before re-assigning devices to students
- Enable Kiosk mode on Chromebooks that will be shared by multiple students after re-assignment
And finally, conduct a retrospective on your workflow and processes once deprovisioning is over. Over time, your K-12 IT team can develop and adhere to a strict deprovisioning process that meets the needs of your department based on district size, number of students, number of actively managed devices, and more.
An Easier Way To Deprovision School Chromebooks
Deprovisioning district Chromebooks is one of the most tedious device management tasks K-12 IT teams have to perform. Google Admin console makes it easier on IT teams, but it fails to address the difficulties around actively managing student Chromebooks that are assigned to students.
At Incident IQ, we’ve built a comprehensive service management system to help K-12 IT teams manage massive Chromebook inventories, submit and resolve help requests, and make Chromebook deprovisioning and disablement easy.
Want to learn more? Schedule a demo to see how your district can streamline their Chromebook management workflows.