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K-12 Workflow Management Blog

Setting Up Chromebooks for Schools: 9 Must-Have Software for K-12 Devices

Illustration of a man on a couch with a laptop on his lap.

As our world continues to revolutionize digital products and processes, it’s no surprise that computers and other technologies have made their way into the classroom. Even before the pandemic, 1:1 learning had already been gaining traction. Once the world declared a state of emergency, remote learning became immediately necessary in all areas.

By August 2020, nearly 93 percent of households with school-age children reported some form of distance learning had taken place in the home. Suffice it to say, a lot of lessons had to be learned fast. Paramount among these lessons was that households with higher incomes had more digital literacy access and potential than those households with lower incomes. With all children not having equitable access to screentime, this digital divide had to be quickly remedied.

This had a strong bearing on schools, which were tasked with ensuring that students were set up for success. Children needed to be provided with computers and other devices, preinstalled with everything they would need to learn from home. Chromebooks met this demand since they were equipped with a chrome browser and g suite which were then set up with individualized child accounts in gmail.

If you’re setting up Google Chromebooks for schools, laptops, or devices of any kind; there are some apps and software you won’t want to miss. It is essential that student devices are set up to make online learning as similar as possible to the in-person classroom experience.

Preparing Chromebooks for Student Deployment

When setting up and deploying Chromebooks to students, it is important to follow an appropriate setup guide to facilitate device usage that will work for your school today, and well into the future. If this is your first time setting up Chromebooks, have someone on hand for technical support who can assist in a smooth deployment.

That said, the process of configuring device settings for school functionality is not difficult.

Each device needs:

  • Barcodes or asset tracking stickers to know who a device is assigned to and where it is located
  • A student account with username/password/ID so the student can log on and use their account
  • An associated email address for children in middle and high school, and sometimes elementary as well
  • Apps and software that will complement lessons in the classroom or technology
  • Access to the WiFi network
  • Access to school printers, websites, and other daily necessities
  • Configuration for use at home or while remote learning from another location
  • Software that helps enforce district policies

Many facilities managers create a school account for each student on a new Chromebook by using Google Admin console often with the program Google Workspace for Education. This allows you to set up a Google account with gmail for each student and staff member which can all be managed from a central location.

Best Apps & Software to Install on Student Chromebooks

A healthy assortment of software programs to integrate with teaching and lesson planning will support teachers and students in the classroom. When teachers understand how to utilize the provided technology, this allows teachers to provide exactly what their students need. Therefore, it is essential to preinstall useful apps and software on student devices prior to student distribution.

Consider the following essential apps, programs, and software when configuring Chromebooks for schools.

Google Apps

Google Chromebooks would logically include Google apps and the Google Chrome Browser. Chromebooks come preinstalled with g suite when you order them. They are powered by Chrome OS, which makes using Chrome apps and other Google tools like Google Classroom a breeze.

Word Processing Software

Another necessary feature of a student device is word processing software. Many tech managers choose to install Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office suite, which also includes Excel and PowerPoint. Alternatively, you might choose Google Docs and other Google products.

Zoom or Video Conferencing Software

The pandemic demonstrated that video conferencing is now essential. Students that will be learning from home still need to interact with their classmates and receive direct instruction from their teachers. Therefore, video conferencing software like Zoom must be provided. Zoom works well with Chromebooks, is easy to use, and supports learning in this digital generation of children.

Screen Readers

Google offers many accessibility features to students and their teachers. These features can be found in the settings location of a chromebook. Alternatively, you can choose to display the accessibility options in the main system menu. Accessibility options include:

  • The ability to zoom in on sections of the screen
  • A screen reader and a braille interface
  • On-screen keyboards
  • Different languages for screen reading and language input
  • Image descriptions and captions
  • Voice-to-text transcription

These features assist students with hearing, visual, and other learning impairments. This is crucial for students who receive one on one assistance in the physical classroom and need to bridge learning gaps at home.

Security Software

Security software must be installed on all devices that children will use. Robust security needs to filter out ads, violent content, and prevent hacking. Fortunately, Chromebooks have built in malware protection.

Device Tracking Software

Chromebook locations must be tracked. This is necessary to ensure you have enough devices when you deploy them at the start of the school year. Device tracking will also help you maintain an accurate inventory which is necessary since students may need to be issued new devices throughout the year. Location tracking is also imperative to have in place when collecting back the Chromebooks at the end of the school year to account for each device.

Browser Monitoring and Filtering

Students must be protected when searching on the internet. Monitoring tracks student activity while filtering blocks content from unapproved websites. Together these keep students safe.

Help Desk App

All school districts need a way to track help desk tickets and work orders. Utilizing a smart trouble ticket system will help you review maintenance requests, prioritize tasks, and assign workers to correct the issues quickly.

Remote Access Software

Remote access software is useful whether students are learning at home or in the classroom.

  • Enables collaboration for students who need to work together on school projects, or for students trying to help one another use a program or app.
  • Allows for screen sharing between teachers and students when a teacher is helping a student fix a problem or learning to use a new tool from home.
  • Helps IT professionals with troubleshooting and simple fixes that don’t require hands-on help.

Remote access software, like the others above, is an excellent tool to provide students and teachers from the get-go.

Conclusion

The ability to deploy Chromebooks in schools is a necessary skill set for today’s educational IT administrators. Whether you’re outfitting an entire district with new devices or are simply replacing a computer or two, it’s important that you follow excellent device management protocols on all Chrome devices. Devices with preinstalled software are imperative. They help students learn, teachers educate, and IT professionals avoid help ticket avalanches. Beyond that, you’ll want intelligent, intuitive software on hand to help you manage devices, tickets, work orders, and more.

Consider Incident IQ, which integrates expertly with Chromebooks and other student devices, giving you the tools you need to manage the tools your students need. Our software allows you to track Chromebooks, assign work orders, assist students, teachers and even provide data to their administators all within a single application.

Sound too good to be true? Book a demo and decide for yourself, or contact us with questions today. We’d love to share our work with you, hear about yours, and help you find the solution you need.